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Impaired sleep predicts onset of low back pain and burnout symptoms: evidence from a three-wave study.

Elfering A, et al. Psychol Health Med. 2018.


In a three-wave questionnaire study of 405 working participants, who were initially free of low back pain (LBP) and emotional exhaustion, sleep problems were evaluated as a potential risk factor for the development of LBP and burnout up to three years later. Prospective risk paths were compared between the sexes and between two age-groups (18 to 45 years and older than 45 years). A longitudinal structural equation model showed a good fit with empirical data (RMSEA = .04, SRMR = .06, CFI = .97). Prospective risk paths between the latent constructs showed sleep problems to significantly predict self-reported LBP (β = .15, p = .011) and burnout (β = .24, p < .001) two years later. Sleep problems also predicted the occurrence of burnout three years later (β = .18, p = .002). Sleep-related risk of burnout after two years was greater in older than younger participants (βolder = .42 vs. βyounger = .13, p < .001). Sleep problems seem to precede LBP and burnout in working individuals. Health promotion initiatives should use sleep quality as an important early risk indicator, and interventions should focus on promoting better quality sleep, in an attempt to reduce the incidence of LBP and burnout.


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