Self-Efficacy and Health Locus of Control: Relationship to Occupational Disability Among Workers with Back Pain

S Richard, CE Dionne, Arie Nouwen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

24 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives Although self-efficacy and health locus of control (HLC) have been extensively studied in health research, little is known about their contribution to occupational disability among workers with back pain. This 2 year prospective study examined the association between these control belief constructs and "return to work in good health'' (RWGH), a four-category, composite index of back pain outcome. Methods The participants (n = 1,007, participation = 68.4%, follow-up = 86%) were workers with occupational disruptions who sought a medical consultation for non specific back pain in primary care and emergency settings in the Quebec City area, Canada. Information about self-efficacy for return to work (SERW) and HLC, as well as potential confounders, was collected during a telephone interview about 3 weeks after the baseline medical consultation. Polytomous logistic regression was used to assess the relationship between the baseline control variables and RWGH at 2 year. Odds ratios (OR) and their 95% confidence intervals were used to quantify the strength of associations. For all analyses, the "success'' category was considered the reference group. Results Although bivariate analyses showed a significant association between external HLC and RWGH at 2 year, this relationship was not significant in multivariate analyses. Higher scores on the self-efficacy questionnaire were however protective of "failure to return to work after attempt(s)'' (OR: 0.28; 95% CI: 0.14-0.57) and of "failure to return to work'' (OR: 0.19; 95% CI: 0.07-0.48) in multivariate analyses. Conclusion Self-efficacy is an important determinant of the occupational outcome of back pain.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)421-430
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Occupational Rehabilitation
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2011


  • Self-efficacy
  • Health locus of control
  • Control beliefs
  • Occupational disability
  • Back pain


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