Table 1

Description of the web-based counselling program 'Snelbeter' (Get Well Fast)

Target group

Employees on sick leave due to back or neck pain, their occupational physicians (OPs) and (optionally) their direct supervisor.


Inclusion criteria

Non-specific back or neck pain, contract duration of 12 hours minimum per week, two weeks minimum (partly) on sick leave due to back or neck pain, no serious health problems (warning flags: e.g. fever, pain in arms or legs, serious disease), able to talk and write in Dutch and with access to the internet. In the case of full absenteeism, employees need to have internet access at home and a private e-mail address.


Concept

The program is based on self-reported questionnaires. Employees receive individually tailored instructions for exercises, pain education and coping tools. The information provided comes from the latest scientific knowledge concerning treatment and interventions for employees on sick leave due to non-specific back or neck pain. It also conforms to the Dutch practice guidelines for employees with neck and back complaints of the Netherlands Society of Occupational Medicine (NVAB) [17,18].

The program offers OPs information with regard to second-line care referrals and return to work (RTW). The employee has the option to involve his supervisor. If the employee gives permission, the supervisor will receive information on how to counsel the employee.


Time path

The program takes five weeks from start to end and can be continued even if RTW is achieved. The time path of the program is in line with the NVAB's practice guidelines and includes these steps:

1. Schedule daily physical activity;

2. Define and list problems;

3. Establish and list solutions;

4. Go back to work.


Information for employees

Employees log in to the website to consult the information in a personal diary. Throughout the five weeks of the program, employees regularly receive e-mails reminding them to keep on visiting the website, even if they have fully returned to work. Employees may receive up to 14 documents in total, depending on the data derived from four questionnaires. The information includes advice on how to improve physical fitness, how to set a daily timetable, pain-coping strategies, and instructions for neck and back exercises. It takes employees about 15 minutes a day to read the documents, fill in the questionnaires and follow the exercises. If an employee refrains from filling in a questionnaire no more information is provided to that employee and the OP concerned.


Information for OPs

The OP receives an advisory report each time an employee completes a questionnaire. The OP receives an alert three days after a questionnaire is presented to the employee in order to contact those who have not yet responded. The OP also has access to the employee's personal diary.


de Jong et al. BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 2009 9:46   doi:10.1186/1472-6947-9-46

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