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Comparison of pain-resilient working individuals to population-based case controls with/without momentary low back pain


  • Funding sources

    Swiss National Science Foundation's MHV-Program for financial support in form of personal grant (PMCDP1_134112/1) to the first author. Further support by National Research Program NRP 53 ‘Musculoskeletal Health – Chronic Pain’ of Swiss National Science Foundation (Project 405340-104826).

  • Conflict of interest

    None declared.


Cornelia Rolli Salathé




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.


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.


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.


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.