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Measuring the Prevalence and Incidence of Low Back Pain Disorders Among American Workers in the Aerospace and Defense Industry

Goetzel, Ron Z. PhD; D’Arco, Malinda MPH; Thomas, Jordana MPH, RN; Wang, Degang PhD; Tabrizi, Maryam J. PhD, MS; Roemer, Enid Chung PhD; Prasad, Aishwarya MPH, MBBS; Yarborough, Charles M. MD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: September 2015 - Volume 57 - Issue 9 - p 998–1003
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000512

Objective: To determine the prevalence and incidence of low back pain (LBP) among workers in the aerospace and defense industry and in a specific company.

Methods: Claims and demographic data from the Truven Health MarketScan normative database representing more than 1 million workers were drawn from a group of 18 US benchmark companies and compared with one particular company, Lockheed Martin Corporation.

Results: The prevalence of LBP in the MarketScan normative group was 15.6% in the final study year (2012), whereas the incidence of new cases was 7.2% and 7.3% in years 2011 and 2012, respectively. Compared with the normative group, the company's prevalence and incidence rates were lower. Women and older workers were more likely to experience LBP compared with men and younger workers.

Conclusions: The analysis was used to inform the company's leadership about the health burden of the condition and evaluate alternative treatment options to prevent the incidences and reduce the prevalence of clinical back pain among workers.

Truven Health Analytics (Drs Goetzel, Wang, and Tabrizi, and Ms D’Arco), Cambridge, Mass, Bethesda, MD; Institute for Health and Productivity Studies (Drs Goetzel, Roemer, and Prasad), Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Washington, DC; and Lockheed Martin Corporation, Bethesda, Md (Ms Thomas and Dr Yarborough).

Address correspondence to: Ron Z. Goetzel, PhD, Institute for Health and Productivity Studies, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Truven Health Analytics, 7700 Old Georgetown Rd, Ste 650, Bethesda, MD 20814 (

Funding for this study was provided by Lockheed Martin Corporation.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Copyright © 2015 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine