The prevalence of occupational low-back pain was investigated in 407 female nurses in a large tertiary health care unit in Athens, Greece Work-related back pain within the previous 2 weeks was reported by 63% of respondents and within the previous 6 months by 67% Prevalence was higher (66% in the previous 2 weeks) in the wards with physically heavy duties than in the rest (52%, P=0 003), but all grades of nursing staff were affected equally The specific factors which claimed to be responsible for causing back pain included moving heavy items (36%), lifting patients onto trolleys (32%) or in bed (29%) helping patients out of bed (24%) and bending to lift objects from the floor (24%) Absence from work because of back pain in the previous 2 weeks was reported by 28% of the sample