Are the "myths" of low back pain alive in the general Norwegian population?

Scand J Public Health. 2003;31(5):395-8. doi: 10.1080/14034940210165163.


Aim: The aim of this study was to examine the perception of low back pain care and consequences according to what Deyo refers to as seven "myths" about back pain, in the Norwegian population.

Methods: In spring 2001, seven questions, corresponding to Deyo's myths, were included in an opinion poll (telephone interviews) of a representative sample (n=1015) of the Norwegian population.

Results: In total, 41% of the population held that 'If you have a slipped disc you must have surgery'. Approximately 50% believed that 'X-ray and newer imaging tests can always identify the cause of pain' and 'Most back pain is caused by injury and heavy lifting'. Almost 60% agreed that 'Everyone with back pain should have a spine X-ray'. However, only one-quarter believed that 'If your back hurts, you should take it easy until the pain goes away', and approximately one-fifth believed that 'Back pain is usually disabling'. Only 12% believed that 'Bed rest is the mainstay of therapy'. More individuals in the lower- compared with the higher-educated groups believed in the myths.

Conclusion: Information concerning current knowledge on healthcare and health consequences of low back pain had reached only a small part of the general population. The most important factor for lack of knowledge was education. Developing effective methods to promote adequate self-care and treatment and reduce the risk of chronicity of low back pain in the lower-educated groups should be a top priority.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / etiology
  • Low Back Pain / psychology*
  • Low Back Pain / therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Norway
  • Public Opinion
  • Social Class
  • Telephone