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Pain-related factors associated with lost work days in nurses with low back pain: A cross-sectional study

  • Sharma, Saurab
  • Shrestha, Nischal
  • Jensen, Mark P.
Published Article
Scandinavian Journal of Pain
De Gruyter
Publication Date
Apr 01, 2016
DOI: 10.1016/j.sjpain.2015.11.007
De Gruyter


Background and aims Chronic low back pain is known to contribute to lost work days (LWDs) in nurses. However, there is a limited understanding of the factors that moderate the impact of low back pain (LBP) on LWDs – in particular factors that are modifiable and that could therefore be the treatment targets of interventions designed to help nurses more effectively manage LBP. This study aims to identify pain-related factors that are associated with LWDs in nurses with LBP, in order to inform the development of interventions that could reduce LBP-related work dysfunction and improve patient care. Methods A cross sectional study was conducted on 111 female nurses who were asked to answer questions regarding demographic information, work history, presence or absence of LBP, number of LWDs due to illness, and a number of factors that could potentially be related to LWDs including: (1) average and worst pain intensity; (2) the temporal pattern of LBP (constant versus intermittent); (3) pain aggravating factors (lifting, bending, walking, and standing); and (4) pain alleviating factors (medications, rest, exercise). Results Sixty-five percent (n = 72) of the sample reported LBP. Constancy of pain and having a LBP problem that was alleviated by rest were significantly associated with the number of LWDs, while maximum and average LBP intensity were only weakly associated. Conclusion The findings provide important new information regarding whatis (and of equal importance) what is not associated with LWDs in nurses with LBP. Implications To effectively reduce LBP-related work disability, interventions may need to teach nurses how to better manage constant pain and remain active despite pain, rather than focus on pain reduction. Research to examine the potential efficacy of such treatment approaches for nurses with LBP is warranted.

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