Amber M. Beynon, Jeffrey J. Hebert, Christopher J. Hodgetts, Leah M. Boulos, Bruce F. Walker


January 2020, pp 1 - 17 Review Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-019-06278-6

First Online: 06 January 2020

Chronic physical illnesses, mental health disorders, and psychological features as potential risk factors for back pain from childhood to young adulthood: a systematic review with meta-analysis

Purpose

To report evidence of chronic physical illnesses, mental health disorders, and psychological features as potential risk factors for back pain in children, adolescents, and young adults.

Methods

This systematic review and meta-analysis included cohort and inception cohort studies that investigated potential risk factors for back pain in young people. Potential risk factors of interest were chronic physical illnesses, mental health disorders (e.g. depression, anxiety), and other psychological features (e.g. coping, resistance). Searches were conducted in MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, and Scopus from inception to July 2019.

Results

Nineteen of 2167 screened articles were included in the qualitative synthesis, and data from 12 articles were included in the meta-analysis. Evidence from inception cohort studies demonstrated psychological distress, emotional coping problems, and somatosensory amplification to be likely risk factors for back pain. Evidence from non-inception cohort studies cannot distinguish between risk factors or back pain triggers. However, we identified several additional factors that were associated with back pain. Specifically, asthma, headaches, abdominal pain, depression, anxiety, conduct problems, somatization, and ‘feeling tense’ are potential risk factors or triggers for back pain. Results from the meta-analyses demonstrated the most likely risk factors for back pain in young people are psychological distress and emotional coping problems.

Conclusion

Psychological features are the most likely risk factors for back pain in young people. Several other factors were associated with back pain, but their potential as risk factors was unclear due to risk of bias. Additional high-quality research is needed to better elucidate these relationships.

Graphic abstract

These slides can be retrieved under Electronic Supplementary Material.

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