Low back pain is a common medical problem that sometimes results in disability and absence from work. Any method of treatment that decreases absence would be welcome by individuals and insurance companies. A randomized control study was undertaken to determine whether an alternate form of treatment is effective. The study examined 134 workers who were absent from work because of low back pain.
Half the sample was assigned to graded activity, a physical exercise program designed to stimulate rapid return to work. The other half was assigned to the usual care, which involves mostly rest. For each worker, the number of days absent from work because of low back pain in the following 6 months was recorded. Do these data provide sufficient evidence to infer that the graded activity is effective?