Low back pain and associated risk factors among undergraduate students of a medical college in Delhi.

Research paper by Nupur N Aggarwal, Tanu T Anand, Jugal J Kishore, Gopal Krishna GK Ingle

Indexed on: 10 Nov '13Published on: 10 Nov '13Published in: Education for health (Abingdon, England)


Low back pain (LBP) is the most common orthopedic problem worldwide and is known to affect both younger and older adults. The stressful and time consuming curriculum of medical students predisposes them to this problem. Few statistics are available on prevalence rates of LBP among medical students in India. This study assesses the prevalence and risk factors of LBP in students of a medical college in Delhi.A cross-sectional study was carried out in a medical college in Delhi. The study subjects (n = 160; 100% participation) were selected via stratified random sampling from all undergraduate medical students (aged 17-25 years). A validated questionnaire was used to collect the data.The overall prevalence of LBP among the students over the past one year was 47.5% (n = 76) with a prevalence of 32.5% at the time of data collection. Prevalence among males and females was 45.3% and 50%, respectively. Significant associations were found between LBP in the past year and coffee drinking (Regular = 57%, Occasional = 38.9%, Never = 65.2%, χ2 = 7.24, P= 0.02), body posture (Normal = 32.6%, Abnormal = 75%, χ2 = 18.97, P < 0.001), place of study (Study table = 33.8%, Bed = 58.6, Both = 61.5% χ2 = 10.51, P = 0.01), family history of LBP (Present = 75%, Absent = 38.3%, χ2 = 16.17, P < 0.001) and carrying backpacks (Regular = 50%, Occasional = 33%, Never = 0%, χ2 = 16.17, P < 0.001). The mean scores of depression (2.7 vs. 1.6), anxiety (3.5 vs 1.9), and monotonous work (3.9 vs. 1.8) were found to be significantly higher in group with LBP than in the non-LBP group. However, no association with LBP was seen for weight lifting, watching television/working on computers, driving, wearing heels, or body mass index.The high prevalence of LBP among medical students and its association with poor study habits, lifestyle habits, and psychological factors highlight a need for life skills training, education, counseling, and restructuring of the medical curriculum.