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Pain Research and Treatment
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 3797493, 9 pages
Research Article

Risk Factors Linked to Psychological Distress, Productivity Losses, and Sick Leave in Low-Back-Pain Employees: A Three-Year Longitudinal Cohort Study

1Department of Human and Social Sciences, University of Bergamo, Bergamo, Italy
2Human Factors and Technologies in Healthcare Research Centre, University of Bergamo, Bergamo, Italy
3Pain Medicine Centre, Centro Diagnostico Italiano, Milan, Italy
4Pain Medicine Centre, Ospedale San Raffaele, Milan, Italy
5University of Applied Science of Southern Switzerland, Pain Pathophysiology and Therapy Programme, Manno, Switzerland

Received 13 May 2016; Revised 2 July 2016; Accepted 28 July 2016

Academic Editor: Karel Allegaert

Copyright © 2016 Angelo Compare et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. Low back pain (LBP) is one of the most common health problems worldwide. Purpose. To investigate the link between baseline demographic and occupational, medical, and lifestyle data with following psychological and occupational outcomes in a large sample of employees with LBP over a 3-year period. Study Design. Three-year prospective cohort study. Methods. Italian-speaking employees () with a diagnosis of LBP were included. Screening at Time 1 was done in order to collect information about severity and classification of LBP, demographic, lifestyle, and occupational status data. Psychological distress (PGWBI) and occupational burden were assessed after 3 years. Results. After 3 years, employees with LBP not due to organic causes had an increased risk of psychological distress. Gender appears to be an important variable for following occupational burden. Indeed, being a white-collar man with a LBP without organic causes seems to be a protective factor for following work outcomes, while being a white-collar woman with a LBP not due to organic causes appears to be a risk factor for subsequent sick leave. Moreover, LBP severity affects psychological and occupational outcomes. Conclusion. Our findings have several implications that could be considered in preventive and supportive programs for LBP employees.