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03-01-2020 | Uitgave 5/2020

Quality of Life Research 5/2020

Back pain occurrence and treatment-seeking behavior among nurses: the role of work-related emotional burden

Quality of Life Research > Uitgave 5/2020
Maha E. Ibrahim, Boris Cheval, Stéphane Cullati, Denis Mongin, Kim Lauper, Jesper Pihl-Thingvad, Pierre Chopard, Stéphane Genevay, Delphine S. Courvoisier
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To assess the association of back pain and treatment-seeking behavior for such pain with work-related emotional burden (regret about care), regret coping strategies, and physical burden among newly practicing nurses.


We used data from the Impact of Care-related Regret Upon Sleep (ICARUS) cohort collected between 05.2017 and 07.2018 using web-based surveys (weekly for measures of emotional burden, physical burden and coping strategies, and monthly for back pain and seeking care). We investigated immediate associations and temporal influences between burdens and back pain with linear mixed models and cross-lagged Bayesian models, respectively. Coefficients were standardized to allow comparison between burdens. Logistic regression was used to examine the association of burdens with seeking care.


Among 105 nurses with an average follow-up of 3 months, 80 reported at least one episode of back pain. Neither physical nor emotional burdens had an immediate association with back pain. However, number of days with back pain in a given month was associated with an increase in both burdens during the previous month, with similar degrees of association (emotional: b = 0.24, physical: b = 0.21). Decision to seek treatment was associated with an increase in back pain frequency (OR 1.12, p = 0.04) and intensity (OR 1.80, p = 0.002) and a decrease in emotional burden (OR 0.95, p = 0.03). Coping strategies were associated neither with the occurrence of back pain nor with care-seeking.


While both emotional and physical burdens were associated with increased frequency of back pain the following month, emotional burden additionally showed a negative association with the decision to seek care.

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