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Back disorder incidence and occupation in Denmark: a cross-sectional register-based study

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The purpose of the present paper is (1) to describe the occupational distribution of persons with incident back disorders and (2) to determine the incidence rate ratio (RR) for back pain amongst patients working in specific occupation groups.


Using Danish registries, a total of 20,921 employed persons with incidents back disorders aged 18–64 years were identified in 2016 based on the inclusion criteria from the Danish Back Register. RR was estimated to test for differences in incident back disorder diagnoses across occupations. Pearson’s Chi-square test was used to test for homogeneity in back disorder incidence across occupations.


The distribution of back disorder incidence for employed is above the distribution of employment in the background population for all age groups above 35 years. For employed women the three occupation groups with the highest RR of back pain incidence are: ‘water, sewage and waste’; ‘residential institutions and home care’; and ‘transport of passengers’, while similarly, amongst employed men: ‘hairdressers and other personal care’; ‘hospitals’; and ‘cleaning’. RR of incident back pain disorders is lowest for women employed in ‘universities and research’ and for men employed in ‘IT and telecommunications’.


This study is the first to investigate the occupational status and RR of back disorder incidence across occupation groups in Denmark. The distribution of back pain disorder incidents in the cross-sectional study is weighted to occupation groups involving hard physical activity. This evidence may be useful for considering work environment or pension reforms.

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Correspondence to Christian Volmar Skovsgaard.

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Wiben, A., Skovsgaard, C.V., Schiøttz-Christensen, B. et al. Back disorder incidence and occupation in Denmark: a cross-sectional register-based study. Eur Spine J 29, 1860–1869 (2020).

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