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Associations of objectively measured forward bending at work with low-back pain intensity: a 2-year follow-up of construction and healthcare workers
  1. Lars-Kristian Lunde,
  2. Markus Koch,
  3. Suzanne Lerato Merkus,
  4. Stein Knardahl,
  5. Morten Wærsted,
  6. Kaj Bo Veiersted
  1. Department of Work Psychology and Physiology, National Institute of Occupational Health, Oslo, Norway
  1. Correspondence to Dr Lars-Kristian Lunde, Department of Work Psychology and Physiology, National Institute of Occupational Health, Oslo 0363, Norway; Lars-Kristian.Lunde{at}


Objectives This study aimed to determine possible associations between objectively measured forward bending at work (FBW) and low-back pain intensity (LBPi) among Norwegian construction and healthcare workers.

Methods One-hundred and twenty-five workers wore two accelerometers for 3–4 consecutive days, during work and leisure to establish duration of ≥30° and ≥60° forward bending. The participating workers reported LBPi (0–3) at the time of objective measurements and after 6, 12, 18 and 24 months. We investigated associations using linear mixed models with significance level p≤0.05 and presented results per 100 min.

Results The duration of ≥30° and ≥60° FBW was not associated with average LBPi during follow-up, neither for the total sample nor stratified on work sector. Furthermore, analyses on all workers and on construction workers only found no significant association between ≥30° or ≥60° FBW and change in LBPi over the 2-year follow-up. For healthcare workers we found a consistent significant association between the duration of ≥30° FBW at baseline and the change in LBPi during follow-up, but this was not found for ≥60° FBW.

Conclusions This study suggests that objectively measured duration of FBW in minutes is not associated with average levels of, or change in LBPi in construction workers over a 2-year period. In healthcare workers, exposure to ≥30° FBW was associated with change in LBPi, while we did not find this for ≥60° FBW. Results may indicate that the associations between FWB and LBP vary depending on type of work tasks, gender or sector-specific factors.

  • construction work
  • healthcare work
  • low-back pain
  • objective measures
  • prospective design

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  • Contributors All authors contributed to form the study design. LKL and MK collected the data. LKL drafted the paper and was responsible for statistical analysis and interpreting the data. MK, SLM, SK, MW and KBV assisted with data interpretation and reviewed, edited and approved the final version of the manuscript.

  • Funding The Research Council of Norway funded this study (grant number 218358).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval The study was approved by the Regional Committee for Medical and Health Research Ethics in Norway (2014/138/REK south-east D).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available upon reasonable request.

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