JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Complementary value of functional capacity evaluation for physicians in assessing the physical work ability of workers with musculoskeletal disorders.

OBJECTIVE: To study the complementary value of information from functional capacity evaluation (FCE) for insurance physicians (IPs) who assess the physical work ability of claimants with long-term musculoskeletal disorders (MSD).

METHOD: A post-test only design was used in the context of disability claims. Twenty-eight IPs participated in the study. Claimants with MSD formed the patient population. For each IP, the first claimant who agreed to participate was included in the study, and underwent FCE in addition to the regular disability claim assessment. Firstly, the IP performed the statutory disability claim assessment. Secondly, the FCE assessment took place. Finally, a self-formulated questionnaire was presented to the IPs after they viewed the FCE report. IPs were asked whether they perceived FCE information to be of complementary value to their judgment of the claimant's physical work ability investigated. We considered FCE information to be of complementary value if more than 66% of the IPs indicated as such. IPs were also asked whether FCE information led them to change their initial judgment about the claimant's physical work ability, and whether they felt this information made them more confident about their ultimate judgement. Finally, they were asked whether they planned to include FCE information in future disability claims and for what type of claimants. Differences between IPs who did or did not experience complementary value were explored.

RESULTS: Of the 28, 19 (nearly 68%) IPs considered FCE information to be of complementary value for their assessment of claimants with MSD. Half of the IPs stated that FCE information reinforced their judgment. All but four IPs changed their assessment after reading the FCE report. Sixteen IPs intended to involve FCE information in future disability claim assessments. There were no observed differences between the IPs who did or did not consider the FCE information to be of complementary value.

CONCLUSION: FCE information was found to have complementary value at present and in the future according to most IPs in the assessment of the physical work ability of claimants with MSD. Half of the IPs felt that this information reinforces their judgment in this context.

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