JOURNAL ARTICLE
RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
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A cross-sectional survey of the clinical and psychological features of low back pain and consequent work handicap: use of the Quebec Task Force classification.

A hospital-based cross-sectional study examined 657 consecutive referrals with low back pain over two years to a district rheumatology service serving a population of about 250,000 people. Five hundred and thirty-eight had mechanical/degenerative low back pain. The mean age was 48.6 (range 18-80 SD 15.3) years; 64% were women. Patients with radiating pain or neurological deficit (Quebec Task Force classification) were significantly more disabled (Roland disability score p < 0.001) and depressed (Modified Zung score p < 0.05) than those without radiating pain. Women were more impaired (p = 0.02) than men but had similar disabilities (mean Roland score 11.7, range 0-24 SD 6.5). Fifty-three per cent of patients were receiving benefits and were significantly more likely to have musculoskeletal comorbidities than those in work (p < 0.025). It is concluded that the Quebec Task Force classification of low back pain impairment is a helpful descriptor and related to both physical and psychological disability and handicap in employment.

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