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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2015 Open Access

BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 1/2015

A screening tool for non-specific low back pain with disability in office workers: a 1-year prospective cohort study

BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders > Ausgabe 1/2015
Prawit Janwantanakul, Rattaporn Sihawong, Ekalak Sitthipornvorakul, Arpalak Paksaichol
Wichtige Hinweise

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

The authors have contributed in the following ways: PJ provided concept, research design, and manuscript writing. RS provided data collection and critical review of the manuscript. ES provided data collection and critical review of the manuscript. AP provided data analysis and critical review of the manuscript. All authors have read and approved the final manuscript.



Having a screening tool with reasonable predictive ability is essential in providing information about an individual’s risk of developing a disease, allowing an examination to be conducted with limited personnel and time, and selecting the relevant individuals for therapeutic research. This study aimed to produce a screening tool to identify office workers at risk of developing non-specific low back pain (LBP) with disability, and to evaluate the tool’s predictive power.


At baseline, 615 healthy office workers filled out a self-administered questionnaire and underwent physical examination to gather potential risk factors. The incidence of LBP was collected every month thereafter. Disability level was assessed using the Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire (RMDQ). The minimum RMDQ score for categorization as LBP was 3. Logistic regression was used to select significant factors to build a risk score. The coefficients from the logistic regression model were used to develop the components of a screening tool.


Over the 1-year follow-up, 8.8 % of participants reported incident LBP with disability. The screening tool for non-specific low back pain with disability in office workers comprised two items that contributed to the total score: previous history of LBP and psychological demand (assessed by the Job Content Questionnaire). The score range of the screening tool was 12 to 69. With a cut-off score of 53, the sensitivity was 65 % and the specificity was 68 %. The positive and negative predictive values were 16 and 95 %, respectively. The area under the receiver-operating characteristic curve was 0.76.


A screening tool for non-specific low back pain with disability in office workers was developed and appears to have reasonable sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive values, and negative predictive values. Further validation and impact studies of the screening tool in a new population of office workers are suggested.
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