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BMJ. 2007 December 1; 335(7630): 1119.
PMCID: PMC2099549
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Back supports reduce back pain among home care workers

People who work in home care have a high prevalence of low back pain. So researchers from the Netherlands thought that these people would be a good target population for a randomised trial of back supports. They recruited 360 workers with a history of back pain from one home care organisation in Rotterdam and allocated 183 of them to use a back support when they had pain or expected to get pain. The rest carried on without the supports, but all participants had their usual yearly session on safe working practices from the company's in-house health and safety executiveexecutive.

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People who used the supports reported nearly 54 fewer days of back pain during the year long study than controls (95% CI −85.2 to −28.7 days each year, P <0.001).

The supports were also associated with a small but significant reduction in pain intensity and disability. But they had no effect on absenteeism. These home care workers took an average of 45 days off sick a year, whether or not they were using a lumbar support. The authors were initially disappointed by this one negative result. But further analysis suggested that because back pain wasn't a major contributor to absenteeism, back supports were unlikely to get these employees back to work.


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