Patterns of Care for Low Back Pain in a Working Population

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Abstract

Study Design.

A prospective longitudinal study with 1-year follow-up.

Summary of Background Data.

Little is known about the consequences of having back pain and the patterns underlying the decisions to use medical care.

Objectives.

The aim of this study is to describe care utilization for low back pain (LBP) and to investigate which factors determine use of care for LBP.

Methods.

We used a self-administered questionnaire to collect data on individual, health-related, and work-related factors and the type of medical care sought among 529 employees of nursing homes and homes for the elderly in the Netherlands. Logistic regression models were used to present associations between aforementioned factors and care utilization for LBP.

Results.

A large proportion of the working population was afflicted with LBP, and only one third sought care. Individuals who use care had more intense pain, chronic pain, and functional limitations. Patients’ characteristics varied among the different type of health care providers. Well-known work-related risk factors for the occurrence of LBP did not determine use of care for workers with LBP.

Conclusions.

Care utilization due to LBP was associated with severity and nature of back pain. Patients’ characteristics vary among the different type of health care providers, but work-relatedness of LBP seems similar across all providers.

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