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Abstract

Background

Few studies have examined the 20% of individuals who never experience an episode of low back pain (LBP). To date, no investigation has been undertaken that examines a group who claim to have never experienced LBP in their lifetime in comparison to two population-based case–control groups with and without momentary LBP. This study investigates whether LBP-resilient workers between 50 and 65 years had better general health, demonstrated more positive health behaviour and were better able to achieve routine activities compared with both case–control groups.

Methods

Forty-two LBP-resilient participants completed the same pain assessment questionnaire as a population-based LBP sample from a nationwide, large-scale cross-sectional survey in Switzerland. The LBP-resilient participants were pairwise compared to the propensity score-matched case controls by exploring differences in demographic and work characteristics, and by calculating odds ratios (ORs) and effect sizes. A discriminant analysis explored group differences, while the multiple logistic regression analysis specified single indicators which accounted for group differences.

Results

LBP-resilient participants were healthier than the case controls with momentary LBP and achieved routine activities more easily. Compared to controls without momentary LBP, LBP-resilient participants had a higher vitality, a lower workload, a healthier attitude towards health and behaved more healthily by drinking less alcohol.

Conclusions

By demonstrating a difference between LBP-resilient participants and controls without momentary LBP, the question that arises is what additional knowledge can be attained. Three underlying traits seem to be relevant about LBP-resilient participants: personality, favourable work conditions and subjective attitudes/attributions towards health. These rationales have to be considered with respect to LBP prevention.