Associations between measures of socio-economic status, beliefs about back pain, and exposure to a mass media campaign to improve back beliefs

Arnela Suman, Geoffrey P. Bostick, Frederieke G. Schaafsma, Johannes R. Anema, Douglas P. Gross*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Low back pain (LBP) is one of the most common and costly healthcare problems worldwide. Disability from LBP is associated with maladaptive beliefs about the condition, and such beliefs can be influenced by public health interventions. While socioeconomic status (SES) has been identified as an important factor in health literacy and inequalities, not much is known about the association between SES and beliefs about LBP. Therefore, this study examined the relationship between measures of SES and the belief that one should stay active through LBP in a representative sample of the general population in Alberta, Canada. We also examined the association between measures of SES and self-reported exposure to a LBP mass media health education campaign. Methods: Population-based surveys from 2010 through 2014 were conducted among 9572 randomly selected Alberta residents aged 18-65 years. Several methods for measuring SES, including first language, education, employment status, occupation, and annual household income, were included in multivariable logistic regression modeling to test associations between measures of SES and outcomes. Results: Univariable analysis showed that age, language, education, employment, marital status, and annual household income were significantly associated with the belief that one should stay active through LBP. In multivariable analysis, income was the variable most strongly correlated with this belief (odds ratios ranged from 1.04 to 1.62 for the highest income category, p = 0.005). Univariable analysis for exposure to the campaign showed age, language, education, employment, and occupation to be significantly associated with self-reported exposure, while only education (p = 0.01) and age (p = 0.001) remained significant in multivariable analysis. Conclusions: Individuals with higher annual income appear more likely to believe that one should stay active during an episode of LBP. Additionally, targeted information campaigns are recalled more by low SES groups and may thus assist in reducing health disparities. More research is needed to fully understand the association between socioeconomic factors and LBP and to target campaigns accordingly.

Original languageEnglish
Article number504
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 25 May 2017

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