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

Saurab Sharma 1 , Nischal Shrestha 2  and Mark P. Jensen 3
  • 1 Department of Physiotherapy, Kathmandu University School of Medical Sciences, Dhulikhel, Nepal
  • 2 Department of Physiotherapy, Dhulikhel Hospital Kathmandu University Hospital, Dhulikhel, Nepal
  • 3 Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, Nepal
Saurab Sharma
  • Corresponding author
  • Department of Physiotherapy, Kathmandu University School of Medical Sciences, Dhulikhel, Nepal
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, Nischal Shrestha
  • Department of Physiotherapy, Dhulikhel Hospital Kathmandu University Hospital, Dhulikhel, Nepal
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and Mark P. Jensen
  • Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, Nepal
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  • degruyter.comGoogle Scholar

Abstract

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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