A study of the factors that may influence the prevalence of back pain in chiropractors
The purpose of this study was to assess the prevalence of back pain in chiropractors in South Africa, in terms of workplace factors which surrounded them and individual factors which they possessed, in order to establish under which circumstances, workplace and individual factors possibly influenced the prevalence of back pain in chiropractors.The total population of South African chiropractors (N=138), registered with the Chiropractors, Homoeopaths and Allied Health Service Professions Council of South Africa for 1994, were sent a questionnaire. A total of 68 questionnaires returned, which represented a 49,3 % response rate. The questionnaire consisted of questions regarding : the prevalences of back pain and low back pain; the intensity and frequency of back pain; the prevalence of different pain locations eg. headache, cervical pain, lumbar pain etc.; the workplace factors included : static work postures, bending, twisting and lifting, repetitive work, overexertion, ergonomics, psychological work factors, number of hours and days worked per week; the individual factors included age and gender, anthropometry, posture, physical fitness, spinal mobility, psychological factors, social factors, environmental factors and the number of years in practice. The results were statistically analyzed using crosstabulation and Log-linear analysis. The results were represented by cross-tabulations, bar and pie charts and then descriptively analyzed. The overall prevalence of back pain amongst South African chiropractors was 55,9% and the low back pain prevalence was 65,1%. Among other findings, certain ergonomic factors such as desk and physical examination table heights were found to be significantly associated with the respondents having more back pain. Those respondents who exercised for longer than 60 minutes per exercise session had significantly less back pain than those respondents who exercised for shorter periods of time. Of interest was that those respondents who used adjustment techniques which required the use of force, had significantly more back pain than those who used non-force techniques. It must be emphasized that extreme caution should be exercised in attempting to generalise the findings of this survey, since the workplace and individual factors associated with back pain were based on the respondent's subjective evaluations. This study was not designed to establish cause and. effect relationships between workplace and individual factors, and the prevalence of back pain amongst chiropractors.