'Back-breaking' work beliefs contribute to health workers' pain

September 24, 2009

Whether from heaving, twisting, bending or bad lifting postures, it's well known that caring for the sick or elderly can lead to back pain. This often results in time off work or dropping out of caring professions altogether. Now Danish research published in the online open access journal BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders suggests that the fear of getting back pain from care work is predictive of actually developing it.

Among healthcare workers, studies have found LBP rates during a 12-month period of 45-63 percent compared with 40-50 percent in the general population. Rather than avoiding , medical guidelines based on LBP research recommend staying active and continuing normal daily life, including going to work.

Jette Nygaard Jensen and colleagues from the National Research Centre for the Working Environment, Copenhagen, Denmark set out to investigate the association between physical work load and lower back pain (LBP), and whether fear-avoidance beliefs had a predictive effect on developing LBP. Fear-avoidance beliefs involve avoiding physical activities that are expected to cause pain, although ironically these beliefs are often associated with developing .

2677 female healthcare workers were given questionnaires that measured both fear-avoidance beliefs about work and fear-avoidance beliefs about physical activity. The researchers found that the picture differed among those who had already suffered from LBP versus those who had not.

For those who had a previous history of LBP, both workload and fear-avoidance beliefs played a part in new episodes of LBP. In general, a greater workload was associated with more LBP, and workload had a greater role to play than fear-avoidance beliefs.

For those without an LBP history, workload was not a significant factor in developing LBP during the study, but fear-avoidance beliefs were. For both groups, fear-avoidance beliefs could be used to predict LBP - this included fears that both work and physical activity would lead to pain. Specifically, both types of fear-avoidance belief were prospectively associated with a higher number of days with LBP (30 days or more).

"From a treatment perspective, focusing on changing fear-avoidance beliefs among those with more or less chronic LBP may be beneficial," says Jensen. "Health care professionals may benefit from additional education or information about how to cope with acute or chronic LBP. Particularly information about the potentially harmful effect of avoidance-behaviour could be useful."

More information: The predictive effect of fear-avoidance beliefs on low back pain among newly qualified health care workers with and without previous low back : a prospective cohort study; Jette Nygaard Jensen, Karen Albertsen, Vilhelm Borg and Kirsten Nabe-Nielsen; BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders (in press); http://www.biomedcentral.com/bmcmusculoskeletdisord/

Source: BioMed Central (news : web)

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Dog ownership linked to lower mortality

November 17, 2017
A team of Swedish scientists have used national registries of more than 3.4 million Swedes aged 40 to 80 to study the association between dog ownership and cardiovascular health. Their study shows that dog owners had a lower ...

New shoe makes running 4 percent easier, 2-hour marathon possible, study shows

November 17, 2017
Eleven days after Boulder-born Shalane Flanagan won the New York City Marathon in new state-of-the-art racing flats known as "4%s," University of Colorado Boulder researchers have published the study that inspired the shoes' ...

Vaping while pregnant could cause craniofacial birth defects, study shows

November 16, 2017
Using e-cigarettes during pregnancy could cause birth defects of the oral cavity and face, according to a recent Virginia Commonwealth University study.

Study: For older women, every movement matters

November 16, 2017
Folding your laundry or doing the dishes might not be the most enjoyable parts of your day. But simple activities like these may help prolong your life, according to the findings of a new study in older women led by the University ...

When vegetables are closer in price to chips, people eat healthier, study finds

November 16, 2017
When healthier food, like vegetables and dairy products, is pricier compared to unhealthy items, like salty snacks and sugary sweets, Americans are significantly less likely to have a high-quality diet, a new Drexel University ...

Children's exposure to secondhand smoke may be vastly underestimated by parents

November 15, 2017
Four out of 10 children in the US are exposed to secondhand smoke, according to the American Heart Association. A new Tel Aviv University study suggests that parents who smoke mistakenly rely on their own physical senses ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.