The pain and disability caused by musculoskeletal conditions result in substantial loss of quality of life, accounting for 21% of the total years lived with disability worldwide. This has considerable impact on healthcare systems, in the UK 1 in 5 people consult their primary care providers each year for a musculoskeletal condition, in Canada and Sweden musculoskeletal conditions account for 20-22% of all healthcare utilisation. The costs of back pain alone range from $259 – 71,614 million, including all musculoskeletal conditions would significantly increase these costs. The most affected groups are those of working age, people with musculoskeletal conditions are less likely to be in work than people without health conditions, and more likely to retire early. Therefore we need to provide appropriate support to those working with musculoskeletal conditions.
Take home messages:
- Work is part of life for most of us, and integrating work into healthcare consultations has been shown more broadly to have positive effects for individuals, health and societal systems
- Research has demonstrated that adding an early, brief and low intensity vocational advice service for adults with musculoskeletal pain in primary care was associated with significantly fewer days absence over 4 months
- Early, primary care orientated initiatives that help people stay in the workforce with their health conditions need to be further developed and tested