Sociocultural factors and back pain. A population-based study in Belgian adults

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1994 Jan 15;19(2):129-37. doi: 10.1097/00007632-199401001-00002.


A population-based survey of approximately 4000 adults in Belgium, a bi-cultural country with a uniform health care system, explored the relationships of socio-cultural and employment factors to the reported experience of low back pain (LBP). Predictors of 1) history of LBP, 2) first LBP, and 3) daily LBP were examined by multiple logistic regression analysis. Thirty-three percent of the population had current LBP, including 5% experiencing their first episode; 26% had past but not current LBP, and 41% had never had LBP. Increasing age (OR > 2.0, P = .000) and female gender (OR 2.16, P = .000) were associated with history of LBP; only gender (OR 1.40, P = .02) was associated with first episode; neither was associated with daily LBP. Language was associated with history (OR 1.80, P = .000) and first occurrence (OR 1.77, P = .000) but not daily LBP. Among those employed, work dissatisfaction was associated with history of LBP (OR > 2.4, P = .02) and daily LBP (OR 3.85, P = .02), but not with first episode. The results suggest that sociocultural factors influence the expression of LBP, but not the risk of chronicity once LBP is reported, and that work satisfaction may not be causally related to LBP, but may intervene along with type of occupation in the possibility of continuing employment once LBP is present. Prospective studies are needed to confirm these results and elucidate causal relationships.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Back Pain / epidemiology*
  • Back Pain / physiopathology*
  • Belgium
  • Culture*
  • Employment
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Language
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Class*
  • Work / classification