Objective: To develop a self-reported low back pain (LBP) questionnaire and assess its usefulness in (1) describing the incidence of LBP in an industrial setting, compared to medical records and workers' compensation statistics; and (2) targeting specific work sites where the levels and patterns of pain suggest a need for specific intervention.
Design: Survey data used for questionnaires, company medical records, and workers' compensation statistics.
Setting: Industrial work site: aircraft engine factory.
Participants: All employees (n=306).
Interventions: Questionnaire data, including LBP history, demographics, and body pain diagram scores, were compared to medical records and workers' compensation data over a 1-year period. The body pain diagram quantified on a scale of 0 to 10 the subjective level of pain "at the end of an average shift" for six body regions.
Main outcome measures: Pain diagram scores for different body regions were compared using Pearson Product correlations. Intercorrelations of body region pain scores were examined by factor analysis. Differences in main LBP scores according to history and demographics were compared using paired t tests and ANOVA(p=.05).
Results: The 1-year incidence of LBP by questionnaire was 69.3%. Occupational health records revealed only 27% of the same workforce formally complained of LBP, while only 2.3% of the workforce lost time from work because of LBP. A clinically significant level of LBP was reported by 41% of respondents. Their level of LBP was not related to history of LBP, age, height, weight, smoking history, or amount of time in their job. Their level of LBP was somewhat related to their level of neck and peripheral joint pain.
Conclusions: This questionnaire appears to be potentially useful in (1) identifying workers who are symptomatic at an early stage of their LBP problem; and (2) identifying pain patterns in different areas of the plant.