Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation

, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 183–194 | Cite as

Demand, Control and Support at Work Among Sick-Listed Patients with Neck or Back Pain: A Prospective Study

  • Kjersti MyhreEmail author
  • Bjørn Lau
  • Gunn Hege Marchand
  • Gunnar Leivseth
  • Erik Bautz-Holter
  • Cecilie Røe


Purpose The main aim of this study was to assess changes in perceived demand, control and support at work of neck and back pain patients over 1 year. We also hypothesised that perceived changes in demand, control and support at work were associated with clinical improvement, reduced fear-avoidance beliefs and successful return to work. Methods Four hundred and five sick-listed patients referred to secondary care with neck or back pain were originally included in an interventional study. Of these, two hundred and twenty-six patients reported perceived psychosocial work factors at both baseline and 1-year follow-up, and they were later included in this prospective study. Changes in demand, control and support dimensions were measured by a total of nine variables. Results At the group level, no significant differences were found among the measured subscales. At the individual level, the regression analyses showed that decreases in fear-avoidance beliefs about work were consistently related to decreases in demand and increases in control, whereas decreases in disability, anxiety and depression were related to increases in support subscales. Conclusions The perception of demand, control and support appear to be stable over 1 year in patients with neck and back pain, despite marked improvement in pain and disability. Disability, anxiety, depression and fear-avoidance beliefs about work were significantly associated with the perception of the work environment, whereas neck and back pain were not.


Sick leave Work Musculoskeletal diseases Social support Psychology 



This study was funded by the Norwegian Research Council. We thank Leiv Sandvik for statistical advice.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kjersti Myhre
    • 1
    Email author
  • Bjørn Lau
    • 2
    • 3
  • Gunn Hege Marchand
    • 4
  • Gunnar Leivseth
    • 4
  • Erik Bautz-Holter
    • 1
    • 5
  • Cecilie Røe
    • 1
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Physical Medicine and RehabilitationOslo University HospitalOsloNorway
  2. 2.National Institute of Occupational HealthOsloNorway
  3. 3.Lovisenberg HospitalOsloNorway
  4. 4.Faculty of Medicine, Department of NeuroscienceNorwegian University of Science and TechnologyTrondheimNorway
  5. 5.Faculty of MedicineUniversity of OsloOsloNorway

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