Development of the Return to Work (RTW) Tool for Primary Care Providers for Low Back Pain Patients

ID Number 16-0473

Principal Investigator(s)
Ismail Nabeel

Department(s) or Division(s)
Preventive Medicine


Low back pain (LBP) is the most common cause of disability in US adults under the age of 45. Primary care physicians are commonly the first medical practitioners to assess a patient with LBP. Research has now demonstrated that rapid return to normal activities of daily living is generally the best activity recommendation, and a randomized control trial found that in addition to improved function and pain in workers with LBP by implementing a clinical practice guideline in a primary care setting, days of work lost were also reduced.

We hypothesize that primary care physicians themselves should be educated on the use of clinical guidelines with regards to LBP management and return to work (RTW) to direct the care of their patients themselves. Therefore, the purpose of our pilot project is to develop such guidelines in the form of an accessible and adaptable tool.

Return to Work Guidelines for Low Back Pain Patients in a Primary Care Setting will be developed and integrated into the Electronic Medical Records (EMR) which will be readily used in a primary care setting. Primary care providers will be randomized with or without the integrated tool within the electronic health record. Using ICD 10 codes to identify patients with LBP, charts will be retrospectively reviewed to assess if primary care physicians are identifying the type of work, level of disability, and recommendations regarding return to work.

At 6 months, a statistical analysis will be used to determine if the tool is both adaptable and accessible to be used in the primary care setting.

This project has enabled the researchers to expand the field of low back pain management by using evidence-based Return to Work (RTW) strategies providing a better understanding of the understudied field of "return to work" by an innovative use of informatics principles.

This study is only recruiting primary care providers.

Contact Information
Ismail Nabeel
(888) 702-0630

Recruiting Patients: No