Childhood and adult socio-economic position and social mobility as determinants of low back pain outcomes

Eur J Pain. 2014 Jan;18(1):128-38. doi: 10.1002/j.1532-2149.2013.00351.x. Epub 2013 Jun 30.


Background: Low back pain (LBP) is a prevalent problem and tends to be socio-economically patterned. Relatively little is known about life-course socio-economic circumstances as determinants of different types of LBP. Our aim was to examine whether childhood and adult socio-economic position and social mobility are associated with radiating and non-specific LBP and sciatica.

Method: Data were derived from the Young Finns Study (n = 2231). Childhood socio-economic position was based on parental education, occupational class and family income at baseline in 1980. Data on own education and LBP outcomes were collected at the end of follow-up in 2007. Social mobility was based on parental and own education. Covariates were composed of age, parental body mass index and smoking.

Results: Both childhood and own socio-economic position remained associated with radiating LBP and sciatica after adjustments. However, the associations varied by socio-economic indicator and gender. Stable lower socio-economic position and downward mobility were associated with radiating LBP.

Conclusion: Childhood socio-economic circumstances affect the risk of radiating LBP and sciatica in adulthood. To prevent low back disorders, early socio-economic circumstances need to be considered alongside own socio-economic position.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Finland
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Low Back Pain / epidemiology*
  • Low Back Pain / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parents
  • Prevalence
  • Sciatica / epidemiology
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Class
  • Social Mobility / statistics & numerical data*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Treatment Outcome