Objectives: This study examined predictors of low back pain onset in a British birth cohort.
Methods: Univariate and multivariate analyses focused on individuals who experienced onset of low back pain at 32 to 33 years of age (n= 571) and individuals who were pain free (n = 5210). Participants were members of the 1958 British birth cohort.
Results: Incident pain was elevated among those with psychological distress at 23 years of age (adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 2.52, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.65, 3.86) and among persistent moderate or heavy smokers (adjusted OR = 1.63, 95% CI = 1.23, 2.17). Significant univariate associations involving other factors (e.g., social class, childhood emotional status, body mass index, job satisfaction) did not persist in multivariate analyses.
Conclusions: This prospectively studied cohort provides evidence that psychological distress more than doubles later risk of low back pain, with smoking having a modest independent effect. Other prospective studies are needed to confirm these findings before implications for low back pain prevention can be assessed.