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Course of low back pain among nurses: a longitudinal study across eight years
  1. I Maul1,
  2. T Läubli1,
  3. A Klipstein2,
  4. H Krueger1
  1. 1Institute of Hygiene and Applied Physiology, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, Clausiusstr. 25, 8092 Zurich, Switzerland
  2. 2Department of Rheumatology and Institute of Physical Medicine, University Hospital Zurich, Rämistr. 100, 8091 Zurich, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr I Maul, Herdweg 94a, 70193 Stuttgart, Germany; 


Aims: To describe the course of low back pain (LBP) among nurses across eight years.

Methods: A longitudinal study was performed with a follow up at 1 and 8 years among nurses employed by a large university hospital in Switzerland. A modified version of the Nordic Questionnaire was distributed to obtain information about demographic data, occupational activities, and various aspects of LBP. A clinical examination and several functional tests were used to overcome the problems associated with subjective pain reporting. Nurses having answered the questionnaire on all three occasions (n = 269) were classified into subgroups according to their pain intensity. For each subgroup the course of LBP was recorded.

Results: LBP was highly prevalent with an annual prevalence varying from 73% to 76%. A large percentage (38%) indicated the same intensity of LBP on all three occasions. The proportion of nurses reporting repeated increase of LBP (19%) was approximately as large as the proportion who complained about repeated decrease of LBP (17%).

Conclusion: It became evident that LBP poses a persistent problem among nurses. Over an eight year period almost half of the nurses indicated the same intensity of LBP, thus supporting a recurrent rather than a progressive nature of LBP.

  • longitudinal study
  • nurses
  • low back pain
  • LBP, low back pain
  • LMD, localised musculoskeletal disorders

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