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Prevalence and factors associated with low back pain among nurses at a regional hospital in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Thembelihle Dlungwane, Anna Voce, Stephen Knight


Background: Low back pain (LBP) is a public health problem worldwide and is a common cause of work-related disorder among workers, especially in the nursing profession. Recruitment and retention of nurses is a challenge, and the nursing shortage has been exacerbated by the burden of occupational injuries such as LBP and related disabilities. The physiotherapy clinical records revealed that caseload of nurses presenting for the management of LBP was increasing. The prevalence and factors associated with LBP were unclear.

Methods: A cross-sectional study design with an analytic component was implemented. Data were collected utilising a self-administered questionnaire to determine the prevalence and factors associated with LBP among nurses at a regional hospital. Bivariate analyses were performed to determine the factors associated with LBP.

Results: The point prevalence of current LBP in nurses was 59%. The highest prevalence was recorded among enrolled nurses (54%), respondents aged 30–39 (46%), overweight respondents (58%) and those working in obstetrics and gynaecology (49%). Bending (p = 0.002), prolonged position (p = 0.03) and transferring patients (p = 0.004) were strongly associated with LBP. Nurses with more than 20 years in the profession reported a high prevalence of LBP. The prevalence of LBP was higher among the participants who were on six-month rotations (76%) compared with those on yearly rotation (16%).

Conclusion: A high proportion of nurses reported to have LBP. Occupational factors are strongly associated with LBP. Education programmes on prevention and workplace interventions are required in order to reduce occupational injuries.
AJOL African Journals Online