Supporting workers with lower back injuries to return to work: a meta-ethnography

Rebecca Robart, Paul Boyle

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Lower back injuries can prevent people from engaging in the occupation of work, which is considered to be beneficial to physical and mental wellbeing. Return-to-work programmes aim to support people to re-engage with work; however, the success of these can be varied. The aim of this review was to explore what factors facilitated a return to work for those in employment, and what the factors may be in preventing others from making a successful return to work.

    A systematic search of the literature identified 10 qualitative research studies, and a meta-ethnographic approach was then used to critique and synthesise the findings to provide a line of argument.

    Interrogation of the selected studies brought about three third-order interpretations as follows: enabling injured workers to return to work safely; challenging negative assumptions; overcoming organisational barriers.

    The study supports previous findings that emphasise consideration of wider organisational and psychosocial factors relating to supporting people to return to work, rather than focusing solely on the injured worker. Suggestions are made for the modification of current work practices, the need for a strength-based approach to rehabilitation and for occupational therapists who might work with people living with back pain.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalThe British Journal of Occupational Therapy
    Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2020


    • Low Back Pain
    • Return to work
    • Pscyhosocial
    • Psychological phenomena
    • Musculoskeletal system


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