Prevalence of low back symptoms and its consequences in relation to occupational group

Baiduri Widanarko, Stephen Legg, Mark Stevenson, Jason Devereux, Geoff Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The purpose of this study was to examine: (1) the prevalence of low back symptoms (LBS) and its consequences (reduced activities and absenteeism); (2) the association between occupational group and LBS; and (3) the association between LBS and its consequences. Methods: A self-administered questionnaire was used to determine the prevalence of LBS in 1,294 Indonesian coal mining workers. A Cox proportional hazards model was developed to quantify the 12-monthly hazard of LBS. Logistic regression models were developed to identify risk factors for reduced activity and absenteeism from the workplace. Results: The 12-month period prevalence for LBS, reduced activities, and absenteeism were 75%, 16%, and 13%, respectively. The 12-monthly hazard of LBS for blue-collar workers was 1.85 (95% CI: 1.06-3.25) times that of white-collar workers. LBS and smoking increased the risk of reduced activity and absenteeism. Conclusions: Indonesian coal mining workers have a high prevalence of LBS. The findings imply that efforts to reduce LBS and in the workplace should focus on blue-collar workers. For smokers who report reduced activities and/or absenteeism, there should be a focus on rehabilitation and/or return-to-work programs. Am. J. Ind. Med. 56:576-589, 2013.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)576-589
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Journal of Industrial Medicine
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2013


  • Back pain
  • Blue-collar worker
  • Developing country
  • Healthy worker effect
  • Sick leave


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