Helsingin yliopisto


Helsingin yliopiston verkkojulkaisut

University of Helsinki, Helsinki 2006

Socioeconomic Status, Occupational Factors and Lifestyle as Predictors of Hospitalisation for Back Disorders

Leena Kaila-Kangas

Doctoral dissertation, May 2006.
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Doctoral Programmes of Public Health.

The aim of this dissertation was to examine the determinants of severe back disorders leading to hospital admission in Finland. First, back-related hospitalisations were considered from the perspective of socioeconomic status, occupation, and industry. Secondly, the significance of psychosocial factors at work, sleep disturbances, and such lifestyle factors as smoking and overweight was studied as predictors of hospitalisation due to back disorders.

Two sets of data were used: 1) the population-based data comprised all occupationally active Finns aged 25-64, and included hospitalisations due to back disorders in 1996 and 2) a cohort of employees followed up from 1973 to 2000 having been hospitalised due to back disorders.

The results of the population-based study showed that people in physically strenuous industries and occupations, such as agriculture and manufacturing, were at an increased risk of being hospitalised for back disorders. The lowest hospitalisation rates were found in sedentary occupations. Occupational class and the level of formal education were independently associated with hospitalisation for back disorders. This stratification was fairly consistent across age-groups and genders. Men had a slightly higher risk of becoming hospitalised compared with women, and the risk increased with age among both genders.

The results of the prospective cohort study showed that psychosocial factors at work such as low job control and low supervisor support predicted subsequent hospitalisation for back disorders even when adjustments were made for occupational class and physical workload history. However, psychosocial factors did not predict hospital admissions due to intervertebral disc disorders; only admissions due to other back disorders. Smoking and overweight predicted, instead, only hospitalisation for intervertebral disc disorders. These results suggest that the etiological factors of disc disorders and other back disorders differ from each other.

The study concerning the association of sleep disturbances and other distress symptoms with hospitalisation for back disorders revealed that sleep disturbances predicted subsequent hospitalisation for all back disorders after adjustment for chronic back disorders and recurrent back symptoms at baseline, as well as for work-related load and lifestyle factors. Other distress symptoms were not predictive of hospitalisation.

The title page of the publication

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© University of Helsinki 2006

Last updated 28.04.2006

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