Predictors of return to work with upper limb disorders

S. Moshe, R. Izhaki, G. Chodick, N. Segal, Y. Yagev, A. S. Finestone, Y. Juven

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    10 Scopus citations


    Background: Return to work (RTW) is a key goal in the proper management of upper limb disorders (ULDs). ULDs stem from diverse medical aetiologies and numerous variables can affect RTW. The abundance of factors, their complex interactions and the diversity of human behaviour make it difficult to pinpoint those at risk of not returning to work (NRTW) and to intervene effectively. Aims: To weigh various clinical, functional and occupational parameters that influence RTW in ULD sufferers and to identify significant predictors. Methods: A retrospective analysis of workers with ULD referred to an occupational health clinic and further examined by an occupational therapist. Functional assessment included objective and subjective [Disability of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand (DASH) score] parameters. Quantification of work requirements was based on definitions from the Dictionary of Occupational Titles web site. RTW status was confirmed by a follow-up telephone questionnaire. Results: Among the 52 subjects, the RTW rate was 42%. The DASH score for the RTW group was 27 compared with 56 in the NRTW group (P < 0.001). In multivariate analyses, only the DASH score was found to be a significant independent predictor of RTW (P < 0.05). Conclusions: Physicians and rehabilitation staff should regard a high DASH score as a warning sign when assessing RTW prospects in ULD cases. It may be advisable to focus on workers with a large discrepancy between high DASH scores and low objective disability and to concentrate efforts appropriately.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)564-569
    Number of pages6
    JournalOccupational Medicine
    Issue number7
    StatePublished - 1 Oct 2015


    • Incapacity for work
    • Musculoskeletal
    • Occupational fitness
    • Sickness absence
    • Upper limb disorder

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Medicine


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