The influence of socio-demographic characteristics on consultation for back pain—a review of the literature

Department of Health Sciences, University of York, York, UK.
Family Practice (Impact Factor: 1.86). 10/2010; 28(2):163-71. DOI: 10.1093/fampra/cmq085
Source: PubMed


There are several assumptions within clinical practice about who is more or less likely to consult a health care practitioner for particular symptoms, most commonly these focus around socio-demographic characteristics. We aimed to assess the evidence for the impact of socio-demographic characteristics on consultation for back pain.
We conducted a review of the literature, using systematic methods, on consultation for back pain. Using systematic searching techniques we identified peer-reviewed publications that focused on health care consultation in response to symptoms of back pain and which included data on both users and non-users of health care.
We identified 23 studies. Definitions of help-seeking were inconsistent across studies. The majority of the 15 studies which considered the relationship between age and help-seeking for back pain did not find evidence of an association between these two factors. Seventeen studies considered whether socio-economic position was associated with help-seeking. The evidence largely supported the conclusion of no association (13 papers). Fifteen studies included gender as a variable in their analyses, and the majority (10 papers) presented the finding of no association.
The results from this review suggest that there is little evidence to support the common wisdom that socio-demographic characteristics impact on help-seeking in the context of back pain. As these assumptions relating to who is more or less likely to consult will ultimately affect patient care, it is important that they do not go unchallenged.

Download full-text


Available from: Irwin Nazareth
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Non-specific low back pain has become a major public health problem worldwide. The lifetime prevalence of low back pain is reported to be as high as 84%, and the prevalence of chronic low back pain is about 23%, with 11-12% of the population being disabled by low back pain. Mechanical factors, such as lifting and carrying, probably do not have a major pathogenic role, but genetic constitution is important. History taking and clinical examination are included in most diagnostic guidelines, but the use of clinical imaging for diagnosis should be restricted. The mechanism of action of many treatments is unclear, and effect sizes of most treatments are low. Both patient preferences and clinical evidence should be taken into account for pain management, but generally self-management, with appropriate support, is recommended and surgery and overtreatment should be avoided.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2012 · The Lancet
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: An epidemiological study. To determine the effect of race on the incidence of acute low back pain, resulting in a health care encounter in active duty military service members. Although racial differences in the incidence of low back pain have been documented in previous studies, currently no consensus exists on the relative risk between these groups. A query was performed using the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center database for the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision code for low back pain (724.20). A total of 12,399,276 person-years of data were analyzed and stratified by age, race, and sex. Incidence rates were calculated and compared using the multivariate Poisson regression analysis. A total of 467,950 cases of low back pain resulted in a visit to a health care provider in our population, with an overall incidence rate of 37.74 per 1000 person-years. Asians/Pacific Islanders had the lowest incidence rate of 30.7 and blacks had the highest with 43.7. Female sex and older age were also significant risk factors but with significantly different effect sizes between racial groups. Native Americans/Alaskan Natives demonstrated the greatest effect of age on low back pain incidence rates, with a 126% increase between the youngest and oldest age groups compared with a 36% difference in whites. Race, sex, and age were all found to be significant risk factors for acute low back pain. The highest rates were identified in blacks followed by whites, Hispanics, and American Indian/Alaskan Native, and the lowest rates were identified in Asians/Pacific Islanders. Significant differences in the effect of sex and age were identified between the different racial groups.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2012 · Spine
  • Source

    Full-text · Article · May 2013 · Slovenian Journal of Public Health
Show more