Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

Living Edition
| Editors: Marc Gellman

Occupational Rehabilitation

  • Douglas P. GrossEmail author
  • Calvin Haws
  • Joanne Park
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6439-6_101938-1



Occupational rehabilitation is the science and practice of maximizing function in workers with a disabling health condition, including assisting them to return to a level of work activity appropriate to their functional, psychological, and cognitive capacity. Related and synonymous terms include work rehabilitation, industrial rehabilitation, and vocational rehabilitation, among others. The past decades have seen the development of therapies and programs aimed at helping working-age adults with musculoskeletal, neurological, and mental health conditions that lead to work disability (Jundt and King 1999). Although the programs may have different names, their goals are fundamentally similar including restoring physical abilities as well as psychological and functional tolerances of the disabled worker in order to return them to gainful employment (Schultz et al. 2007).


Standards of...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References and Further Reading

  1. Bendix, T., Bendix, A. F., Busch, E., & Jordan, A. (1996). Functional restoration in chronic low back pain. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, 6, 88–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Fadyl, J. K., & McPherson, K. M. (2009). Approaches to vocational rehabilitation after traumatic brain injury: A review of the evidence. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, 24, 195–212.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Feuerstein, M. (2009). Work and cancer survivors. New York/London: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Gatchel, R. J., Polatin, P. B., Noe, C., Gardea, M., Pulliam, C., & Thompson, J. (2003). Treatment- and cost-effectiveness of early intervention for acute low -back pain patients: A one-year prospective study. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 13, 1–9.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Gross, D. P., & Battie, M. C. (2005). Predicting timely recovery and recurrence following multidisciplinary rehabilitation in patients with compensated low back pain. Spine, 30, 235–240.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Gross, D. P., Haws, C., & Niemelainen, R. (2012). What is the rate of functional improvement during occupational rehabilitation in workers’ compensation claimants? Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 22, 292–300.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Group AAMPG. (2004). Evidence-based management of acute musculoskeletal pain: A guide for clinicians: Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Council. Bowden Hills: Australian Academic Press.Google Scholar
  8. Hadler, N. M. (2005). Occupational musculoskeletal disorders (3rd ed.). Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.Google Scholar
  9. Haldorsen, E. M. (2003). The right treatment to the right patient at the right time. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 60, 235–236.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  10. Isernhagen, S. J. (1995). The comprehensive guide to work injury management. Gaithersburg: Aspen Publishers.Google Scholar
  11. Jundt, J., & King, P. M. (1999). Work rehabilitation programs: A 1997 survey. Work, 12, 139–144.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Lambeek, L. C., van Mechelen, W., Knol, D. L., Loisel, P., & Anema, J. R. (2010a). Randomised controlled trial of integrated care to reduce disability from chronic low back pain in working and private life. BMJ, 340, c1035.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  13. Lambeek, L. C., Bosmans, J. E., Van Royen, B. J., Van Tulder, M. W., Van Mechelen, W., & Anema, J. R. (2010b). Effect of integrated care for sick listed patients with chronic low back pain: Economic evaluation alongside a randomised controlled trial. BMJ, 341, c6414.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  14. Loisel, P., Abenhaim, L., Durand, P., et al. (1997). A population-based, randomized clinical trial on back pain management. Spine, 22, 2911–2918.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Macedo, L. G., Smeets, R. J., Maher, C. G., Latimer, J., & McAuley, J. H. (2010). Graded activity and graded exposure for persistent nonspecific low back pain: A systematic review. Physical Therapy, 90, 860–879.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Marin, T. J., Van Eerd, D., Irvin, E., Couban, R., Koes, B. W., Malmivaara, A., van Tulder, M. W., Kamper, S. J. (2017) Multidisciplinary biopsychosocial rehabilitation for subacute low back pain. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 6:CD002193. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD002193.pub2.Google Scholar
  17. Poiraudeau, S., Rannou, F., & Revel, M. (2007). Functional restoration programs for low back pain: A systematic review. Annales de Réadaptation et de Médecine Physique, 50, 425–429. 419–424.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Sandstrom, J., & Esbjornsson, E. (1986). Return to work after rehabilitation. The significance of the patient’s own prediction. Scandinavian Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine, 18, 29–33.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Schaafsma, F., Schonstein, E., Whelan, K. M., Ulvestad, E., Kenny, D. T., & Verbeek, J. H. (2010). Physical conditioning programs for improving work outcomes in workers with back pain. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2010(1), CD001822.Google Scholar
  20. Schultz, I. Z., Stowell, A. W., Feuerstein, M., & Gatchel, R. J. (2007). Models of return to work for musculoskeletal disorders. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 17, 327–352.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Steenstra, I. A., Knol, D. L., Bongers, P. M., Anema, J. R., van Mechelen, W., & de Vet, H. C. (2009). What works best for whom? An exploratory, subgroup analysis in a randomized, controlled trial on the effectiveness of a workplace intervention in low back pain patients on return to work. Spine, 34, 1243–1249.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Tyerman, A. (2012). Vocational rehabilitation after traumatic brain injury: Models and services. NeuroRehabilitation, 31, 51–62.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. van Tulder, M., Becker, A., Bekkering, T., et al. (2006). Chapter 3. European guidelines for the management of acute nonspecific low back pain in primary care. European Spine Journal, 15(Suppl 2), S169–S191.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  24. van Vilsteren, M1., van Oostrom, S. H., de Vet, H. C., Franche, R. L., Boot, C. R., Anema, J. R. (2015). Workplace interventions to prevent work disability in workers on sick leave. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. CD006955. (10). doi:10.1002/14651858.CD006955.pub3.Google Scholar
  25. Wyrick, J. M., Niemeyer, L. O., Ellexson, M., Jacobs, K., & Taylor, S. (1991). Occupational therapy work-hardening programs: A demographic study. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 45, 109–112.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media LLC 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Physical TherapyUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.Workers’ Compensation Board of Alberta Millard HealthEdmontonCanada
  3. 3.Department of Occupational TherapyUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

Section editors and affiliations

  • Marc D. Gellman
    • 1
  1. 1.Behavioral Medicine Research Center, Department of PsychologyUniversity of MiamiMiamiUSA