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Low back pain in drivers exposed to whole body vibration: analysis of a dose–response pattern
  1. I J H Tiemessen,
  2. C T J Hulshof,
  3. M H W Frings-Dresen
  1. Coronel Institute of Occupational Health, Academic Medical Center (AMC), University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  1. Ivo J H Tiemessen, Coronel Institute of Occupational Health, Academic Medical Center (AMC), Meibergdreef 9, PO Box 22700, 1100 DE Amsterdam, The Netherlands; i.j.tiemessen{at}


Objective: Analysis of a dose–response pattern between exposure to whole body vibration (WBV) and low back pain (LBP) in a group of drivers.

Methods: This study assessed individual factors, work-related risk factors, various LBP outcome measures and LBP disability in a group of drivers (n = 571) approached at baseline (T0), as well as the WBV magnitude of a representative sample of their vehicles (n = 49), at T0 and at 1-year follow-up (T1). Data were collected using a self-administered questionnaire and actual field measurements according to ISO 2631-1. The magnitude and duration of vibration exposure and a variety of daily and cumulative WBV-exposure measures were calculated for each driver.

Results: 229 drivers (40.1%) completed both questionnaires (T0 and T1). The magnitude of WBV was comparable over time. Depending on the LBP outcome, various individual factors (marital status, back trauma and smoking) and work-related risk factors (previous job with heavy physical loading, lifting, bending and the physical risk index) related significantly to onset (all, p<0.05). After adjusting for these contributing factors, the study found a significant trend (an increase in odds ratios of developing LBP with an increase in WBV exposure) for driving-related LBP with daily driving time (p<0.03), and the cumulative measures total hours of exposure (p<0.01), root sum of squares at total dose (p<0.05) and root sum of quads at total dose (p<0.01). No significant trend was found for 12-month LBP. No analysis on a possible dose–response pattern could be derived for either LBP intensity or LBP disability, due to low prevalence.

Conclusion: The investigation found a dose–response pattern between WBV exposure and driving-related LBP. No indication of a dose–response pattern was found between WBV exposure and 12-month LBP. Although this dose–response pattern is only an indication, these findings imply that WBV exposure might contribute to the onset of driving-related LBP.

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  • Competing interests: None.

  • This work is part of the European study: Risks of Occupational Vibration Injuries (VIBRISKS) – EC FP5 Project No. QLK4-2002-02650.