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The Saskatchewan Health and Back Pain Survey: The Prevalence of Neck Pain and Related Disability in Saskatchewan Adults

Côté, Pierre, DC, MSc*†; Cassidy, J. David, DC, PhD*; Carroll, Linda, PhD*‡

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Study Design. Population-based, cross-sectional mailed survey.

Objective. To determine the lifetime, period, and point prevalence of neck pain and its related disability among Saskatchewan adults and investigate the presence and strength of nonresponse bias.

Summary of Background Data. In Europe, the life-time and point prevalence of neck pain is almost as high as the prevalence of low back pain. Similarly, chronic neck pain is highly prevalent and a common source of disability in the working-age population. However, no studies specifically have documented the prevalence of neck pain and its related disability in North America.

Methods. The Saskatchewan Health and Back Pain Survey was mailed to 2184 randomly selected Saskatchewan adults aged 20-69 years. Fifty-five percent of the study population participated. The presence of nonresponse bias was investigated through logistic regression and wave analysis. The Chronic Pain Questionnaire was used to classify the severity of chronic neck pain.

Results. The age-standardized lifetime prevalence of neck pain is 66.7% (95% confidence interval, 63.8-69.5), and the point prevalence is 22.2% (95% confidence interval, 19.7-24.7). The age-standardized 6-month prevalence of low-intensity and low-disability neck pain is 39.7% (95% confidence interval, 36.7-42.7), whereas it is 10.1% (95% confidence interval, 8.2-11.9) for high-intensity and low-disability neck pain and 4.6% (95% confidence interval, 3.3-5.8) for significantly disabling neck pain. The prevalence of low-intensity and low-disability neck pain decreases with age. More women experience high-disability neck pain than men. Wave analysis suggests that the point prevalence and 6-month prevalence of high-intensity and low-disability neck pain are overestimated in this survey.

Conclusion. This cross-sectional study shows that neck pain is highly prevalent in Saskatchewan and that it significantly disables 4.6% (95% confidence interval, 3.3-5.8) of the adult population.

From the *Institute for Health and Outcomes Research, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, the †Institute for Work and Health and the Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, and the ‡Department of Clinical Health Psychology, Royal University Hospital, Saskatoon, Canada.

Presented at the Canadian Society for Epidemiology and Biostatistics bi-annual conference, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, May 1997.

Supported in part by the Chiropractors' Association of Saskatchewan and Saskatchewan Health.

Acknowledgement date: July 19, 1997.

First revision date: December 22, 1997.

Acceptance date: March 3, 1997.

Device status category: 1.

Address reprint requests to: J. David Cassidy, DC, PhD; Institute for Health and Outcomes Research; P.O. Box 108; Royal University Hospital; 103 Hospital Drive; Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7N 0W8; Canada; E-mail: cassidy@duke.usask.ca.

© Lippincott-Raven Publishers.