Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 2009;35(6):429-436    pdf


Socioeconomic position and low-back pain – the role of biomechanical strains and psychosocial work factors in the GAZEL cohort

by Plouvier S, Leclerc A, Chastang J-F, Bonenfant S, Goldberg M

Objective To analyze the role that biomechanical strains and psychosocial work factors play in occupational class disparities in low-back pain in the GAZEL cohort.

Methods Recruited in 1989, the GAZEL cohort members were employees of the French national company in charge of energy who volunteered to enroll in an annual follow-up survey. The study population comprised 1487 men who completed questionnaires in 1996 (past occupational exposure to manual material handling, bending/twisting, and driving), 1997 (psychosocial work factors), and 2001 (low-back pain using a French version of the Nordic questionnaire for the assessment of low-back pain). Associations between low-back pain for >30 days in the preceding 12 months and social position at baseline (four categories) were described with a Cox model to determine prevalence ratios for each category. We compared adjusted and unadjusted ratios to quantify the contribution of occupational exposures.

Results The prevalence of low-back pain for >30 days was 13.6%. The prevalence of low-back pain adjusted for age was significantly higher for blue-collar workers and clerks than for managers. The number of socioeconomic disparities observed was significantly reduced when biomechanical strains were taken into account; adjusting for psychosocial factors had little impact.

Conclusion In this population, occupational exposures – especially biomechanical strains – played an important role in occupational class disparities for persistent or recurrent low-back pain.

This article refers to the following texts of the Journal: 2005;31(6):409-437  2008;34(4):260-266  1997;23(4):243-256  2008;34(4):250-259  2008;34(4):235-238
The following article refers to this text: 2014;40(1):1-3