Low back pain and lumbago–sciatica in nurses and a reference group of clerks: results of a comparative prevalence study in Germany
Objectives. To gain more conclusive evidence on the question of work-related low-back disorders in German nurses, a comprehensive study with several methodological approaches was performed.
Methods. As part of this project, a cross-sectional study on working conditions and prevalence of low back pain, a sample of 3,332 nurses and 1,720 clerks as reference group was investigated by a questionnaire. In this article, final results referring to a sub-sample of 2,207 nurses and 1,177 clerks who had always worked in their profession, so that we could exclude confounding effects of former occupations, will be presented. Excluding the confounding effects of several covariates by logistic regression, we computed relative risks for different pain symptoms.
Results. The data suggest a considerably higher risk of low back pain for nurses than for the reference population of clerks. Results, however, differ markedly when specific pain symptoms are considered. With respect to lumbago–sciatica and sciatica – which have to be regarded as indicators for possible disc herniation – the study group's relative risk is the most elevated (2.88 for point prevalence of lumbago–sciatica/sciatica). Adjusting the results for several confounders and covariates leads to still higher estimations of nurses' relative risk.
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