The incidence of low back problems among nursing students in Hong Kong

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Aims: To determine the cumulative incidence (CI) of and risk factors for musculoskeletal problems among nursing students in Hong Kong. Background: Although low back problems have been identified internationally as one of the major work-related hazards among nursing personnel, only a few studies have examined the problem among nursing students. Design: Two-year prospective cohort study; data collected at baseline and 2 (T1), 12 (T2) and 26 (T3) months after baseline. Methods: Three cohorts [i.e. two full-time (FT) and one part-time (PT) cohorts] of nursing students were recruited from one of the universities in Hong Kong. They were invited to complete a baseline and three follow-up questionnaires. CIs of low back problems among the three cohorts were calculated and tested for their association. The multivariate logistic regression was also used to identify the risk factors for low back problems. Results: Initially, the seven-day, 30-day and 12-month prevalence in baseline as well as the T1 (64%) and T2 (94%) CIs of low back problems for the PT cohort were significantly higher than those of the two FT cohorts (their CIs ranged from 45-67%). However, the CIs for the FT cohorts were increased from 45% at T1-83% at T3, while the CIs for the PT cohort was only increased from 64-80%, respectively. At T3, the CIs for both FT cohorts caught up with the CI for the PT cohort (χ2 = 0·068, p = 0·07). As expected, the risk factors for low back problems were multifactorial, i.e. personal, psychosocial and physical. Conclusion: Nursing students had similar CI of low back problems as registered nurses 26 months after baseline, i.e. during their nursing training and before becoming a registered nurse. Relevance to clinical practice: The results of this study, for the first time, identified that low back problems were developed during the period of nursing school training rather than after nurses enter the workforce. These findings have crucial implications for reducing low back problems among nursing personnel. There is a need to evaluate nursing students' experience in their nursing study and provide appropriate support to them to reduce their personal, physical and psychosocial stress. The ability of nursing students to deliver high quality patient care depends in part on their ability to conserve their own health and well-being. Journal compilation
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2355-2362
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number15-16
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2010


  • Cumulative incidence
  • Nurses
  • Nursing students
  • Prospective cohort study
  • Risk factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing
  • General Medicine


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