Back pain in the working population: prevalence rates in Dutch trades and professions

Ergonomics. 1995 Jun;38(6):1283-98. doi: 10.1080/00140139508925188.


An analysis of three health surveys in the Dutch working population is described, aimed at the identification of Dutch trades and professions with relative high and low prevalence rates of back pain. The sample was representative of the working population in the Netherlands and consisted of 5840 men and 2908 women. The analysis included 33 trades and 34 professions, with at least 50 respondents for each. A total of 26.6% of the workers reported back pain quite often. Almost 2% reported absence from work in the last two months, and 4% considered their back pain to be a chronic disabling disease. There was a substantial variation in prevalence rate of low-back pain between trades and professions ranging from 12% to 41%. Trades with relatively high prevalence rates were found to be the building materials industry, the construction industry and road transportation, and the wholesale industry. Trades with relatively low prevalence rates were found to be banking, public administration and commercial services. Workers in the construction industry and supervisory production workers, plumbers, drivers and cleaners have a relatively high prevalence rate of back pain. Chemists, scientists, bookkeepers, secretaries and administrative professions have a relatively low prevalence rate of back pain. It is concluded that high prevalence rates of back pain are found in particular in non-sedentary professions. Priorities in prevention of back pain should be directed towards the group with relatively high prevalence rates identified above.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Back Pain / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence