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Risk factors for episodes of back pain in emerging adults. A systematic review

Elin Øiestad, Britt; Hilde, Gunvor; Therese Tveter, Anne; Peat, George G.; Thomas, Martin J.; Dunn, Kate M.; Grotle, Margreth

Risk factors for episodes of back pain in emerging adults. A systematic review Thumbnail


Britt Elin Øiestad

Gunvor Hilde

Anne Therese Tveter

George G. Peat

Margreth Grotle


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: The transition from adolescence to adulthood is a sensitive period in life for health outcomes, including back pain. The objective was to synthesize evidence on risk factors for new episodes of back pain in emerging adults (18-29 years). METHODS: The protocol was registered in PROSPERO (CRD42016046635). We searched Medline; EMBASE; AMED and other databases up to September 2018 for prospective cohort studies that estimated the association between risk factor(s) and self-reported back pain. Risk factors could be measured before or during the age range 18-29 years, and back pain could be measured during or after this age range, with at least 12 months between assessments. Risk factors assessed in =3 studies were summarized. Risk of bias was assessed using a 6-item checklist. RESULTS: Forty-nine studies were included with more than 150 different risk factors studied. Nine studies had low risk of bias, 26 had moderate, and 14 had high risk of bias. Age, sex, height, body mass index (BMI), smoking, physical activity level, a history of back pain, job satisfaction and structural imaging findings were investigated in 3 or more studies. History of back pain was the only risk factor consistently associated with back pain after adjustment (9 studies). CONCLUSION: There is moderate quality evidence that a history of back pain is a risk factor for back pain. There are inconsistent associations for age, sex, height, BMI, smoking, and activity level. No associations were found between job satisfaction and structural imaging findings and back pain. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 19, 2019
Online Publication Date Aug 21, 2019
Publication Date 2020-01
Publicly Available Date May 26, 2023
Journal European Journal of Pain
Print ISSN 1090-3801
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 24
Issue 1
Pages 19-38
Keywords risk factors; back pain; adults; systematic review
Publisher URL


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