Use of General Practitioner Services Among Workers with Work-Related Low Back Pain: A Systematic Review

Preeti Maharjan, Asmare Gelaw, Daniel Griffiths, Danielle Mazza, Alex Collie

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review


Purpose: Work-related low back pain (WRLBP) is a highly prevalent health problem worldwide leading to work disability and increased healthcare utilisation. General practitioners (GPs) play an important role in the management of WRLBP. Despite this, understanding of GP service use for WRLBP is limited. This systematic review aimed to determine the prevalence, patterns and determinants of GP service use for WRLBP. Methods: MEDLINE, Embase via Ovid, Scopus and Web of Science were searched for relevant peer-reviewed articles published in English without any restriction on time of publications. Low back pain (LBP) was considered work-related if the study included workers’ compensation claim data analysis, participants with accepted workers’ compensation claims or reported a connection with work and LBP. The eligibility criteria for GP service use are met if there is any reported consultation with family practitioner, medical doctor or General Practitioner. Two reviewers screened articles and extracted data independently. Narrative synthesis was conducted. Results: Seven eligible studies reported prevalence of GP service use among workers with WRLBP ranging from 11% to 99.3%. Only studies from Australia, Canada and the United States met the eligibility criteria. The prevalence of GP service use was higher in Australia (70%) and Canada (99.3%) compared to the United States (25.3% to 39%). The mean (standard deviation) number of GP visits ranged from 2.6 (1.6) to 9.6 (12.4) over a two-year time interval post-WRLBP onset. Determinants of higher GP service use included prior history of low back pain, more severe injury, prior GP visits and younger age. Conclusion: Only seven studies met the eligibility indicating a relative lack of evidence, despite the acknowledged important role that GPs play in the care of workers with low back pain. More research is needed to understand the prevalence, patterns and determinants to support effective service delivery and policy development.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Occupational Rehabilitation
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024


  • General Practitioners
  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Primary care
  • Work-related injury
  • Work-related low back pain

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