Objective To compare the data of French workers’ compensation system (WCS) and three monitoring networks, and to determine the possibility of identifying the industry sectors requiring in priority prevention programs of low-back pain (LBP).
Methods This study compared four databases and two types of indicators in a French west central region:
French WCS in 2009–2010 (radiculalgia due to herniated disc caused by vibration or handling of materials; disc-related sciatica (DRS) indicator)
surveillance of lumbar disc surgery (LDS) in the general population in 2007–2008 (DRS indicator)
surveillance of musculoskeletal symptoms in the working population in 2007–2009 (LBP and DRS indicators; Cosali study)
surveillance of the uncompensated work-related diseases in 2008-2010 (LBP and DRS indicators)
People aged 20–59 were studied. The prevention index (PI) was used to rank industry sectors according to the number of cases and the prevalence/incidence rate.
Results In men, construction was the first sector in terms of PI in databases (except for Cosali study: transport) and manufacturing the second (except for LDS study: transport). In women, manufacturing was the leading sector (except for LDS study: health sector), followed by the health sector.
Specific epidemiologic surveillance networks (LDS and Cosali studies) allowed ranking the most important number of sectors out of the 17 classified. Considering DRS indicators, LDS study classified 13 sectors for both genders. Concerning LBP indicators, Cosali study ranked 8 and 7 sectors in men and women, respectively.
Discussion Results show the complementarity of the four surveillance programs. A multi-level surveillance system allows detecting industry sectors requiring in priority prevention programs. The regional WCS alone is insufficient to describe accurately the phenomenon. A surveillance network in general population seems to be more appropriate to describe accurately work-related LBP or DRS according to industry sectors, especially those not covered by the occupational health system.
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