Patient handling and risk for developing persistent low-back pain among female healthcare workers

Scand J Work Environ Health. 2013 Mar 1;39(2):164-9. doi: 10.5271/sjweh.3329. Epub 2012 Oct 15.


Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate the risk of persistent low-back pain (LBP) based on the number of patient-handling activities among female healthcare workers with no LBP and those with sub-chronic LBP at baseline.

Method: Female healthcare workers in the eldercare services answered a questionnaire about the number of patient-handling activities (<1, 1-2, 3-10, >10 per day) and days with LBP in 2005. We prospectively investigated the odds ratio (OR) for developing persistent (>30 days in the past 12 months) LBP in 2006 from the frequency of patient-handling activities using multi-adjusted logistic regression analysis among female healthcare workers without LBP (0 days in the past 12 months) (N=1544) and with sub-chronic LBP (1-30 days in the past 12 months) (N=2294) in 2005.

Results: Among female healthcare workers with sub-chronic LBP at baseline, the multi-adjusted OR for developing persistent LBP was 1.04 [95% confidence interval (95% CI) 0.71-1.52] for those with 1-2 activities, 1.29 (95% CI 0.91-1.83) for those with 3-10 activities, and 1.61 (95% CI 1.07-2.42) for those with >10 patient-handling activities per day (P=0.01 for trend), referencing those not performing patient-handling activities. Among female healthcare workers without LBP at baseline, we did not find an increased risk for developing persistent LBP within one year resulting from performing several patient-handling activities.

Conclusion: Preventive initiatives for persistent LBP may aim to keep the number of patient-handling activities below ten per day among healthcare workers with sub-chronic LBP.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Health Personnel / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / etiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Moving and Lifting Patients / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment