Job perception has been cited in numerous studies as a contributing factor in determining a person's inclination to return to work after injury. This latest study evaluated the job perceptions of chronic pain patients and then assessed the likelihood to return to work after rehabilitation.

The researchers found a definite link between job perceptions and the patient's intent to return to work. The patients' intent was related to their perceptions of the jobs' physical demand, satisfaction, dangerousness, and "liking the job." Overall, the authors assessed perceptions of job stress, satisfaction, age, education level, and the number of complaints.

They concluded that voiced "intent" not to return to preinjury type of job is predictive of later behavior. At one month after treatment, the researchers were able to predict the long-term employment status of 75% of those surveyed, simply by expressed intent.

The authors recommend, "that pain facilities with the goal of returning chronic pain patients to work routinely ask the "intent" question. Chronic pain patients indicating that they "do not intend" should be targeted for an exploration of job perception problems."

Fishbain DA, Cutler RB, Rosomoff HL, et al. Impact of chronic pain patients' job perception variables on actual return to work. The Clinical Journal of Pain 1997;13:197-206.