European Spine Journal

, Volume 15, Issue 6, pp 821–833 | Cite as

Occupations associated with a high risk of self-reported back pain: representative outcomes of a back pain prevalence study in the Federal Republic of Germany

  • Sven SchneiderEmail author
  • Slawomira Lipinski
  • Marcus Schiltenwolf
Original Article


Given the increasing medical and economic implications of back pain, occupation-specific prevalence data may provide important pointers for preventive programmes targeted at promoting preventive behaviour and improving conditions. The National German Health Survey is the first study to provide the basis for a representative nationwide analysis of back pain prevalence by occupational category. The net sample comprises a total of 3,488 earners aged 18–69. One in three earners in the Federal Republic of Germany (34%) experienced back pain during the 7 days prior to being interviewed. The 1-year prevalence rate is 60%. Occupational categories associated with a lower-than-average back pain prevalence are highly qualified professionals, senior management, and production occupations associated with a comparatively low degree of manual labour. In contrast, an above-average prevalence was identified for occupations associated with physically strenuous work involving one-sided postures, moving, carrying and holding heavy weights, and work typically performed in poor conditions or bad weather. Our data demonstrates significant inter-occupational differences in terms of self-reported back pain. The results underline the importance of measures to promote preventive behaviour and improve the working conditions of those in low-skill manual labour occupations.


Back pain Occupations Correlates Risk factors Prevalence 



Special thanks are due to Dr. Heribert Stolzenberg, Robert-Koch-Institut Berlin, for providing the data sets. We also wish to thank Saskia Tönges for her assistance in drafting and formatting the text. This publication was supported by a grant from the research fund of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Heidelberg, Germany. We declare that the study was conducted in compliance with the pertinent German laws. Ethics committee approval was obtained.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sven Schneider
    • 1
    Email author
  • Slawomira Lipinski
    • 2
  • Marcus Schiltenwolf
    • 1
  1. 1.Section ‘Neuroorthopaedics’Orthopädische Universitätsklinik HeidelbergHeidelbergGermany
  2. 2.Department of NeuropsychologyCentral Institute of Mental HealthMannheimGermany

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