Low back pain prevalence among paramedics and emergency medical technicians - A pilot study

 Inbal Weberman1, Efrat Veidman2, Tamar Jacob3

1Physiotherapist in Clalit Health Fund, Physiotherapist in "Perah" preschools for children wiht autism spectrum disorders, Ariel University graduate, Israel  
2Physiotherapist in Meuhedet Health Fund. Ariel University graduate, Israel   
3Prof. Jacob, Head of Masters' program, Physical Therapy Depatment, Ariel University, Israel    



Background: Rescue service employees are at risk of low back pain (LBP) due to their work characteristics. Paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) have different work environments and therefore might have different prevalence of LBP. This information can help to understand LBP risk factors and plan prevention programs.


Objectives: 1. To Identify LBP prevalence and disability among paramedics and EMTs. 2. To evaluate the relationship between LBP prevalence and demographic characteristics, work related factors, and health and life style factors of Paramedics and EMTs. 3. To evaluate questionnaire's suitability for future research of a representative sample of the population.


Methods:  We conducted a cross-sectional, pilot study survey. Data were collected using a self-administered questionnaire. The Oswestry questionnaire was used to evaluate LBP disability. Participants indicated LBP point prevalence 1-6 months, and 12 months. Additional variables examined were demographic parameters, physical activity habits, smoking, job seniority, number of shifts per month, and job satisfaction.
Study population consisted of paramedics and EMTs participating in an annual education program, for employees, during 2016. Inclusion criteria were a minimum 12 months experience and a minimum of 12 shifts per month performing the same role. Exclusion criteria were pregnancy, chronic musculoskeletal diseases, diagnosed back problems or any back injuries during the last 6 months.


Results: A total of 37 paramedics and 38 EMTs were included in the study. LBP prevalence over last year was 71% in each group. Thirty nine participants answered the Oswestry part of the questionnaire, who is 73% of the participants who reported LBP during the last year.  The mean LBP Oswestry score found among these participants was 5.71.


Conclusions: Paramedics and EMTs appear to have similar LBP prevalence. This prevalence is higher than that of the general population with the same demographic characteristics. Future research of a random sample of the target population is needed.


Key words: Low Back Pain, Paramedics, Emergency Medical Technicians, risk factors

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