Early intervention options for acute low back pain patients: A randomized clinical trial with one-year follow-up outcomes

Travis Whitfill, Robbie Haggard, Samuel M. Bierner, Glenn Pransky, Robert G. Hassett, Robert J. Gatchel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Introduction In an earlier study, Gatchel et al. (J Occup Rehabil 13:1-9, 2003) demonstrated that participants at high risk for developing chronic low back pain disability (CLBPD), who received a biopsychosocial early intervention treatment program, displayed significantly more symptom improvement, as well as cost savings, relative to participants receiving standard care. The purpose of the present study was to expand on these results by examining whether the addition of a work-transition component would further strengthen the effectiveness of this early intervention treatment. Methods Using an existing algorithm, participants were identified as being high-risk (HR) or low-risk (LR) for developing CLBPD. HR participants were then randomly assigned to one of three groups: early intervention (EI); early intervention with work transition (EI/WT); or standard care (SC). Participants provided information regarding pain, disability, work status, and psychosocial functioning at baseline, periodically during treatment, and again 1 year following completion of treatment. Results At 1-year followup, no significant differences were found between the EI and EI/WT groups in terms of occupational status, self-reports of pain and disability, coping ability or psychosocial functioning. However, significant differences in all these outcomes were found comparing these groups to standard care. Conclusion The addition of a work transition component to an early intervention program for the treatment of ALBP did not significantly contribute to improved work outcomes. However, results further support the effectiveness of early intervention for high-risk ALBP patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)256-263
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Occupational Rehabilitation
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Biopsychosocial
  • Chronicity
  • Early intervention
  • High risk
  • Low back pain
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Occupational Therapy


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