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Disabil Rehabil. 2009;31(10):783-90. doi: 10.1080/09638280802309327.

Socioeconomic status predicts functional disability in patients participating in a back pain trial.

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Institute of Rehabilitation, Post Graduate Medical Institute, University of Hull, Hull, UK.



To investigate whether socioeconomic status in patients with back pain participating in a randomised controlled trial was predictive of functional disability (Roland Disability Questionnaire, RDQ).


Secondary analysis of data (n = 949) from a national primary care trial of physical treatments for back pain (UKBEAM trial) using multilevel modelling. The three indicators were Townsend scores, educational levels and work status.


All indicators were significant predictors of outcome after adjusting for baseline variables. As Townsend scores increased (indicating greater deprivation) RDQ scores (functional disability related to back pain) increased. Lower levels of educational attainment were associated with higher RDQ scores. Those 'Not in Work' reported markedly higher levels of RDQ scores which increased over time. There was no evidence that one particular treatment was more suitable for participants of different socioeconomic status.


The findings from this study add to the body of literature which suggests the importance of socioeconomic factors as an influence on health, including resultant disability related to chronic musculoskeletal conditions such as back pain. Work status was particularly dominant in our findings and may suggest that helping patients with back pain back to work where appropriate, is an especially important part of the management process.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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