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Fam Pract. 2011 Apr;28(2):163-71. doi: 10.1093/fampra/cmq085. Epub 2010 Oct 25.

The influence of socio-demographic characteristics on consultation for back pain--a review of the literature.

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  • 1Department of Health Sciences, University of York, York, UK. joy.adamson@york.ac.uk

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

There are several assumptions within clinical practice about who is more or less likely to consult a health care practitioner for particular symptoms, most commonly these focus around socio-demographic characteristics. We aimed to assess the evidence for the impact of socio-demographic characteristics on consultation for back pain.

METHODS:

We conducted a review of the literature, using systematic methods, on consultation for back pain. Using systematic searching techniques we identified peer-reviewed publications that focused on health care consultation in response to symptoms of back pain and which included data on both users and non-users of health care.

RESULTS:

We identified 23 studies. Definitions of help-seeking were inconsistent across studies. The majority of the 15 studies which considered the relationship between age and help-seeking for back pain did not find evidence of an association between these two factors. Seventeen studies considered whether socio-economic position was associated with help-seeking. The evidence largely supported the conclusion of no association (13 papers). Fifteen studies included gender as a variable in their analyses, and the majority (10 papers) presented the finding of no association.

CONCLUSIONS:

The results from this review suggest that there is little evidence to support the common wisdom that socio-demographic characteristics impact on help-seeking in the context of back pain. As these assumptions relating to who is more or less likely to consult will ultimately affect patient care, it is important that they do not go unchallenged.

PMID:
20974654
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3062780
Free PMC Article
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