Raising awareness of psychosocial factors in the occurrence of low back symptoms in developing countries

Baiduri Widanarko, Stephen Legg, Jason Devereux, Mark Stevenson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Although there is strong evidence that single physical, psychosocial and organisational risk factors are each independent predictors of low back symptoms (LBS), little is known about their combination/interaction, particularly in those working in developing countries. A total of 1294 Indonesian coal mining industry workers reported information about physical, psychosocial, and organisational factors using self-reported questionnaires and were placed into one of four combination exposure groups: 1) high physical (working with bent trunk; whole body vibration exposure; lifting) and high psychosocial (high effort; low reward; work stress), 2) high physical and low psychosocial, 3) low physical and high psychosocial, and 4) low physical and low psychosocial (as the reference group). The odds of LBS in the high physical and high psychosocial group was 5.15 times (95% confidence interval 2.69-9.86) that of the reference group. Psychosocial factors played a more important role than physical factors in increasing the likelihood of reporting LBS. Permanent and night shift workers were more likely to report LBS. These findings imply that efforts to reduce LBS in this workplace should address both psychosocial and physical factors but psychosocial factors should be the priority, with a special focus on permanent and night shift workers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5734-5736
Number of pages3
Issue numberSUPPL.1
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • back pain
  • blue-collar workers
  • coal mining
  • discomfort
  • musculoskeletal disorders


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