Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation

, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 387–393 | Cite as

A Short-Form Functional Capacity Evaluation Predicts Time to Recovery but Not Sustained Return-to-Work

  • Erin N. Branton
  • Kelly M. Arnold
  • Sheena R. Appelt
  • Megan M. Hodges
  • Michele C. Battié
  • Douglas P. GrossEmail author


Objectives To evaluate the ability of a short-form FCE to predict future timely and sustained return-to-work. Methods A prospective cohort study was conducted using data collected during a cluster RCT. Subject performance on the items in the short-form FCE was compared to administrative recovery outcomes from a workers’ compensation database. Outcomes included days to claim closure, days to time loss benefit suspension and future recurrence (defined as re-opening a closed claim, restarting benefits, or filing a new claim for injury to the same body region). Analysis included multivariable Cox and logistic regression using a risk factor modeling strategy. Potential confounders included age, sex, injury duration, and job attachment status, among others. Results The sample included 147 compensation claimants with a variety of musculoskeletal injuries. Subjects who demonstrated job demand levels on all FCE items were more likely to have their claims closed (adjusted Hazard Ratio 5.52 (95% Confidence Interval 3.42–8.89), and benefits suspended (adjusted Hazard Ratio 5.45 (95% Confidence Interval 2.73–10.85) over the follow-up year. The proportion of variance explained by the FCE ranged from 18 to 27%. FCE performance was not significantly associated with future recurrence. Conclusion A short-form FCE appears to provide useful information for predicting time to recovery as measured through administrative outcomes, but not injury recurrence. The short-form FCE may be an efficient option for clinicians using FCE in the management of injured workers.


Functional capacity evaluation Predictive validity Time to recovery Return to work Recurrence Compensation 



This project was completed in partial fulfillment of MScPT degree requirements for the first four authors. The Workers’ Compensation Board—Alberta/Millard Health facilitated data collection. Dr. Battié is supported by the Canada Research Chairs Program.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erin N. Branton
    • 1
  • Kelly M. Arnold
    • 1
  • Sheena R. Appelt
    • 1
  • Megan M. Hodges
    • 1
  • Michele C. Battié
    • 1
  • Douglas P. Gross
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Faculty of Rehabilitation MedicineUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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