Chronic back pain among older construction workers in the United States: a longitudinal study

Int J Occup Environ Health. 2012 Apr-Jun;18(2):99-109. doi: 10.1179/1077352512Z.0000000004.


This study assessed chronic back pain among older construction workers in the United States by analyzing data from the 1992-2008 Health and Retirement Study (HRS), a large-scale longitudinal survey. Fixed-effects methods were applied in the multiple logistic regression model to explore the association between back pain and time-varying factors (e.g., employment, job characteristics, general health status) while controlling for stable variables (e.g., gender, race, ethnicity). Results showed that about 40% of older construction workers over the age of 50 suffered from persistent back pain or problems. Jobs involving a great deal of stress or physical effort significantly increased the risk of back disorders and longest-held jobs in construction increased the odds of back disorders by 32% (95% CI: 1·04-1·67). Furthermore, poor physical and mental health were strongly correlated with back problems. Enhanced interventions for construction workers are urgently needed given the aging workforce and high prevalence of back disorders in this industry.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Back Pain
  • Employment
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies*
  • Occupational Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Occupations
  • United States