An evaluation was made of 3020 workers of the Boeing-Everett facility in an effort to assess risk factors which predispose these workers to back injury. The study was prospective in nature and had as one of its objectives an examination of the predictive value of various subsets of variables and a determination of the degree to which these overlap and compare. Subjects were given a physical examination and a back examination, and medical history, demographic data, and psychosocial information were collected. Back injury complaints were recorded over the next 4 years. Univariate analyses indicated that 60 to 65% of the statistically significant factors for predicting acute back injury claims were nonphysical by nature. Subjects with a history of previous back pain had a relative risk 60% above those who had had no previous back problems requiring treatment. The strongest physical factor for the report of acute back problems was symptoms on straight leg raising, but this was not a good predictor as it only doubled the risk of reporting acute back injury and would have incorrectly labeled 80% of the workers with symptoms on straight leg raising who did not file a back injury claim during follow up.
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