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J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2005 Feb;28(2):128-34.

Back belt use for prevention of occupational low back pain: a systematic review.

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Institute for Work and Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



Back pain continues to be the leading overall cause of morbidity and lost productivity in the workplace. Recently, there has been a renewed interest in the use of back belts by industry to reduce occupational low back pain (LBP).


To examine the literature and evaluate the effectiveness of back belt use for the primary prevention of occupational LBP.


MEDLINE, CINAHL, EMBASE, and HEALTHSTAR were searched for relevant articles published up to July 2003. Studies were included if participants were material handlers, and outcomes included the incidence and/or duration of lost time of reported LBP among workers who wore back belts compared with those who did not. The quality of the evidence was scored independently by 2 reviewers using a double rating method, first according to research design followed by an internal validity rating. Final synthesis of the evidence was performed in which the evidence was classified as good, fair, conflicting, or insufficient.


Ten epidemiologic studies meeting inclusion criteria were identified. Of 5 randomized controlled trials, 3 showed no positive results with back belt use; 2 cohort studies had conflicting results; and 2 nonrandomized controlled studies and 1 survey showed positive results.


Currently, because of conflicting evidence and the absence of high-quality trials, there is no conclusive evidence to support back belt use to prevent or reduce lost time from occupational LBP.

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