Methods: A researcher-designed survey of 205 nurses working in various wards at two NHS District General Hospitals.
Results: The findings of this study broadly confirm the high levels of back pain in nursing, with a one month prevalence of 54.1%. Lifetime prevalence was 77.6% which represented a six times (RR 6.3, 95% CI 4.4–9.3) increased risk of back pain from the pre-nursing prevalence of 12%. Overall, the most popular healthcare practitioner for treatment was the general practitioner while, for most recent episode of back pain, physiotherapy was the most popular, followed by general practice then chiropractic. Nurses at hospital 1 were significantly more likely to visit a chiropractor, while nurses at hospital 2 were significantly more likely to visit a physiotherapist.
Conclusions:Differences in healthcare seeking between hospital samples serve to highlight the issue of treatment costs. While both samples felt cost to be the main barrier to seeking chiropractic care, nurses at hospital 1 were seeking such care significantly more than nurses at hospital 2, and this may be explained in part by the presence of a chiropractic college near hospital 1 offering reduced price care. Healthcare seeking differences were not associated with any differences in sick leave rates between hospital samples. It was not possible to determine the effect of healthcare practitioner choice on return-to-work rates.
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