Prevalence of Low Back Pain in Health Care Workers and Comparison with Other Occupational Categories in Iran: A Systematic Review

Document Type: Review Article

Authors

Center for Research on Occupational Diseases, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

Abstract

Background: There are few research studies evaluating the significance of low back pain (LBP) in Iran, even though the majority of locally published surveys are written in the Persian language. In the present review study, we aimed at appraising published articles related to the burden of LBP and its divergence among different jobs.Methods: A comprehensive search was conducted in all accessible national and international electronic databases from 1948 to mid-2012. The international electronic databases were MEDLINE (PubMed), Web of Sciences, Google Scholar, Scopus, CINAHL, and the Iranian equivalents were SID, IRANDOC, IranMedex, and Magiran. The main search terms were musculoskeletal disorders, musculoskeletal symptoms, low back pain, back pain, and Iran. All keywords were searched electronically by three Boolean operators. The inclusion criteria were age ≥10 years, study focus on LBP prevalence, inclusion of both genders, and no limitation to the study design. A dedicated STROBE questionnaire was developed as a critical appraisal tool and the quality of the identified literature was examined according to the 5-point Linker scale. Articles scoring ≥3 on the Linker scale were appraised. Each literature was screened by four reviewers independently and possible disagreements were streamlined in a joint review meeting. The extracted data were entered into a dedicated table using Microsoft Office Excel program. Data were analyzed for homogeneity using the STATA software (version 11).Results: Of the 51 articles that were included in the present review study, 35 articles reported 1-year LBP with Nordic questionnaire and 3 articles reported point prevalence of LBP. The calculated global prevalence of 1-year LBP in workers was 25% and LBP was the most prevalent issue among health care workers. There was no association between the prevalence of LBP and job classification among workers.Conclusion: LBP is the most common issue among health care workers. It is recommended that future research should focus on this job category for investigating LBP prevalence. This allows parameters that increase the frequency of LBP to be assessed and subsequently permits the reduction or elimination of such factors.