Study design: A national population-based survey focusing on disability.
Objective: To describe the frequency of chronic back conditions among those aged 30 to 64 years, the consequences on their daily lives, their employment status, and source of income. SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA.: Descriptive data from community-based surveys are sparse.
Methods: In the French Handicap, Disability and Dependence survey, 1,289 subjects with chronic back problems were compared with the general population.
Results: The estimates for prevalence of chronic back problems were 7.9% for men (95% confidence interval, 7.2-8.5) and 7.5% for women (95% confidence interval, 7.0-8.1). Despite functional limitations, most people in France who had back problems were employed in a ordinary work: 71.5% among men (77.7% in the general population), 53.5% among women (60.2% in the general population). Among them, blue-collar workers were overrepresented. Of the subjects with back conditions, a very small proportion had a source of permanent income related to their health problems.
Conclusions: The results from this national population-based survey emphasize the weight of chronic back problems in the community, in a country where the legislation offers few alternatives to ordinary work for those who suffer from chronic limitations due to low back pain.