This Week In The Bmj

Previous back trouble predicts new back pain in nurses

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: (Published 26 April 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:a

Back pain is common in nurses. Possible preventive approaches include screening applicants to exclude those at higher risk of back trouble and improving working methods with wider use of mechanical aids for lifting and moving patients. Smedley et al (p 1225) questioned 838 nurses who were initially free from back pain at three month intervals over two years. Previous back trouble was highly predictive of new back pain during follow up. Symptoms were more likely to develop in nurses who carried out frequent lifting tasks without the use of mechanical aids. The authors call for controlled trials on lifting aids.