• occupational back pain;
  • risk factors;
  • farmers;
  • agricultural workers;
  • age



Back pain causes considerable morbidity, disability, and economic loss among workers. Farmers handle heavy objects, often in awkward postures. However, the prevalence of back pain among farmers and the risk factors associated with back pain are not well known.


In this study, we assess the frequency of risk factors for back pain among 287 Iowa male farmers. From 1992 to 1994, using a mail questionnaire, we collected data on potential risk factors for back pain. Eighteen months later, we surveyed occurrence of back pain as the outcome measure.


Thirty-one percent of farmers reported having daily back pain for a week or more during the past 12 months compared to 18.5% in the general working population. Using a multiple logistic regression model, we found two factors associated with back pain: 45–59 years of age (OR = 2.13, 95% CI 1.02–4.43) and having a non-agricultural job as the major occupation (OR = 2.02, 95% CI 0.98–4.17, P = 0.055).


Farmers had a significantly higher prevalence of back pain than the general working population. Middle-aged farmers and those with additional non-agricultural jobs had the highest risk for back pain. Am. J. Ind. Med. 40:646–654, 2001. © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc