Between unemployment and employment: Experience of unemployed long-term pain sufferers

Authors: Gold, P. B., Meisler, N., DuRoss, D., & Bailey, L.
Year Published 2012
Publication Work: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment and Rehabilitation
Volume 43
Number 4
Pages 475-485
Publisher IOS Press

Unemployment is a growing problem worldwide. In Sweden the employment rate in June 2010 was 9.8%. Studies in Sweden have produced evidence of positive effects for the rehabilitation of long-termed unemployed people, with or without disabilities. Long-term musculoskeletal pain is one of the three most common reasons for long-term sick absenteeism.


This study explored and analysed how patients experienced possibilities for, and barriers to, work return after participation in a multi-professional pain-rehabilitation program followed by a coached work-training program (CWT).


The setting was a multi-professional pain rehabilitation program.


Eleven informants with long-term musculoskeletal pain who had participated in the CWT program for 4–21 months comprised the study.

Data Collection

A qualitative emergent design was used. Data collected with interviews were analyzed using the constant comparison method of grounded theory. Triangulation in researchers were used.


There was no control or comparison condition.


The analyses of the interviews resulted in the development of a three-category theoretical model, which was named "a way back to work". The main category "Experience of a way back to work" consisted of the informants' experience during the process between unemployment and employment. The category "Support" describes the help the informants received from various actors, and the category "Negative response" describes negative responses from the actors involved, which was an important barrier in the process between unemployment and employment.


Professional individualized support, participants feeling involved in their rehabilitation process, coaching at real workplaces and multi-professional team including health care personnel, were valuable during the process towards work.

Populations Male & Female
Outcomes Employment acquisition | Return to work
Research Design Single group
Peer Reviewed Yes