Work disability due to low back pain is a significant global health concern. Current policy and practice aimed at tackling this problem is largely informed by the biopsychosocial model. Resultant interventions have demonstrated some small-scale success, but they have not created a widespread decrease in work disability. This may be explained by the under-representation of the less measurable aspects in the biopsychosocial evidence base; namely the influence of relevant systems. Thus, a ‘best-evidence’ synthesis was conducted to collate the evidence on how compensatory (worker’s compensation and disability benefits), healthcare and family systems (spouse/partner/close others) can act as obstacles to work participation for those with low back pain. Systematic searches of several scientific and grey literature sources were conducted, resulting in 1,762 records. Following a systematic exclusion process, 57 articles were selected and the evidence was assessed using a system adapted from previous large-scale policy reviews conducted in this field. Results indicated how specific features of relevant systems could act as obstacles to individual efforts/interventions aimed at tackling work disability due to LBP. These findings reinforce the need for a ‘whole-systems’ approach, with all key players onside and have implications for the revision of current biopsychosocial-informed policy and practice.
- Department of Allied Health Professions, Sport and Exercise - Principal Research Fellow
- School of Human and Health Sciences
- Centre for Applied Research in Health - Member