Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

OBJECTIVES: To examine whether psychosocial risks for low back pain, reported in previous studies, are specific to the working population or are more widely relevant. METHODS: A large population-based survey identified subjects free of low back pain, and obtained information on the degree of satisfaction with work (or not working) and the adequacy of income for their family's needs. New episodes of consulting and non-consulting low back pain were identified prospectively over 12 months. The psychosocial risks for developing a new low back pain episode are examined in employed and non-employed groups separately. RESULTS: Dissatisfaction with work status doubled the risk of reporting a new low back pain episode in both the employed (odds ratio 2.0, 95% confidence intervals 1.2, 3.3) and non-employed (OR 2.0, 1.2, 3.1). Those perceiving their income as inadequate were at a threefold risk of consulting for this symptom regardless of their employment status (employed: OR 3.6, 1.8, 7.2; non-employed: OR 3.6, 1.4, 9.0). CONCLUSION: Psychosocial factors pose similar risks for a new low back pain episode in workers and the non-employed. This suggests that such influences may not be related solely to work but be a function of general aspects of life. The economic and individual impact of psychosocial interventions in the workplace, therefore, are likely to be limited unless account is taken of the influence of broader non-work related aspects.

Original publication




Journal article


Ann rheum dis

Publication Date





500 - 502


Adult, Aged, Employment, Female, Humans, Income, Job Satisfaction, Low Back Pain, Male, Middle Aged, Occupational Diseases, Prospective Studies, Risk Factors