Health care utilization for low back pain in Belgium. Influence of sociocultural factors and health beliefs

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1995 Feb 15;20(4):431-42. doi: 10.1097/00007632-199502001-00005.


Study design: A population-based survey was undertaken.

Objectives: To describe health care utilization for low back pain (LBP) in a culturally diverse society with universal access to health care; to describe how LBP chronicity influences health care utilization; and to describe how sociocultural and demographic factors and health beliefs influence health care utilization.

Methods: A probability sample of approximately 5,000 Belgian adults stratified by gender, age, social class, and habitat was surveyed by trained interviewers. Information on demographics, health beliefs, frequency of LBP, and health care utilization was elicited. Statistical analysis was conducted by means of univariate and multivariate logistic regression. Analysis was restricted to 2,660 respondents with history of LBP.

Results: Of subjects with LBP, 38% reported daily LBP. Sixty-three percent had seen a health professional for the most recent episode; 11% had been on bed rest. Forty-four percent had at sometime undergone radiography; three and a half percent had ever undergone spinal surgery. Eighty-six percent considered themselves in good health. Controlling for LBP frequency, all forms of health care utilization examined were associated with health beliefs.

Conclusions: LBP frequency, health beliefs, and sociocultural factors influence health care behaviors and utilization among adults with a history of LBP in a society with universal access to health care. The association of history of spinal surgery with reports of daily LBP suggests that spinal surgery has failed, at least partly, to relieve LBP.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health
  • Back Pain / diagnostic imaging
  • Back Pain / physiopathology
  • Back Pain / therapy*
  • Bed Rest
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Culture
  • Female
  • Health Personnel
  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Records
  • Middle Aged
  • Office Visits
  • Radiography
  • Social Environment
  • Spine / diagnostic imaging
  • Spine / surgery