European Spine Journal

, Volume 25, Issue 9, pp 2822–2832 | Cite as

Low back pain and health-related quality of life in community-dwelling older adults

  • C. CedraschiEmail author
  • C. Luthy
  • A. F. Allaz
  • F. R. Herrmann
  • C. Ludwig
Original Article



Investigation of self-reported of low back pain (LBP) over the last month and associated health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in a sample of a community-dwelling population aged ≥65.


Cross-sectional study including older adults selected randomly from population records. Data were collected within a sample stratified by age and sex. Physical and psychological healths were investigated using a standardized definition of LBP and the EuroQoL-5D for HRQoL. Analyses were first conducted on the entire sample (N = 3042) and subsequently considering the subsample who reported LBP and a paired sample drawn from the pool of LBP-free respondents.


889 (29 %) respondents reported LBP within the past month, present ‘most days’ or ‘every day’ in 52 % and limiting activities in the same proportion. Average pain score was 4.6 (SD 2.2; 0–10 scale). Age was associated with pain frequency and duration, with younger groups more often reporting pain ‘some days’ and ‘dating back <3 months’. Results of regression analyses showed that individuals suffering from LBP had significantly more problems than LBP non-sufferers on all EQ-5D subscales, except self-care: pain/discomfort (OR 5.33; 95 % CI [4.19–6.79]), mobility (OR 2.66; 95 % CI [2.04–3.46]), usual activities (OR 1.92; 95 % CI [1.42–2.60]), anxiety/depression (OR 1.59; 95 % CI [1.23–2.04]) and self-care (OR 1.29; 95 % CI [0.84–1.98]).


LBP appears to be a more permanent condition in the older groups. LBP may be a part of the definition of a subgroup of elderly at risk of becoming frail in relation with higher levels of functional limitations, psychological difficulties and social restrictions, hence globally impaired HRQoL.


Low back pain Health-related quality of life Older adults Community dwelling 



The data were made available by the Individual Project No. 13 of the National Centre of Competence in Research LIVES (SNF No. 125770) and the Sinergia Project (SNF No. CRSII1-129922), both funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation. The authors wish to acknowledge Pro Senectute Schweiz for its financial and logistic support as well as the following local authorities and institutions for their logistic support: for Canton Geneva, The Departement de la solidarite et de l’emploi and the Departement des affaires regionales, de l’economie et de la sante du Canton de Geneve; for Canton Wallis, The Departement de la securite, des affaires sociales et de l’integration and the Departement des finances, des institutions et de la sante de l’Etat du Valais; for Canton Ticino: The Dipartimento della sanita e della socialita del Canton Ticino.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest



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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Cedraschi
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • C. Luthy
    • 1
  • A. F. Allaz
    • 1
  • F. R. Herrmann
    • 3
  • C. Ludwig
    • 4
  1. 1.Division of General Medical Rehabilitation (SMIR-BS), Geneva University HospitalsUniversity of GenevaGeneva 14Switzerland
  2. 2.Division of Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, Multidisciplinary Pain Centre, Geneva University HospitalsUniversity of GenevaGeneva 14Switzerland
  3. 3.Division of Geriatrics, Geneva University HospitalsUniversity of GenevaGeneva 14Switzerland
  4. 4.School of Health - GenevaUniversity of Applied Sciences and Arts Western SwitzerlandGenevaSwitzerland

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