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Are difficulties perceiving and expressing emotions associated with low-back pain? The relationship between lack of emotional awareness (alexithymia) and 12-month prevalence of low-back pain in 1180 urban public transit operators.
Mehling WE; Krause N
J Psychosom Res 2005 Jan; 58(1):73-81
To assess the association of alexithymia (deficit in emotional awareness) with 12-month prevalence of low back pain (LBP) cross-sectionally in a cohort study of 1180 San Francisco transit operators. Alexithymia was measured by the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20). LBP was assessed in medical histories during drivers relicensing exams. Multivariate logistic regression analyses controlled for demographic, behavioral (smoking, alcohol, coping style), and physical and psychosocial job factors measured by questionnaire and interview. Of all the drivers, 31.4% suffered from LBP. Scoring in the upper quartile of alexithymia summary scores was associated with twofold higher odds of LBP (adjusted odds ratio=2.00, 95% confidence interval: 1.31-3.00). The association was stronger in women (adj. OR=4.35) than in men (adj. OR=1.83). The factor "difficulty identifying feelings" showed the strongest association with LBP (adj. OR=2.23). The results support an association between alexithymia and LBP.
Back-injuries; Workers; Worker-health; Drivers; Questionnaires; Behavior-patterns; Job-analysis; Demographic-characteristics; Sex-factors; Risk-factors; Risk-analysis; Epidemiology; Statistical-analysis; Psychological-factors; Psychological-effects
Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of California-San Francisco, Campus Box 1726, 1701 Divisadero, #150, San Francisco, CA 94143-1726, USA
Issue of Publication
Journal of Psychosomatic Research
Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, San Francisco General Hospital, University of California - San Francisco, San Francisco, California
Page last reviewed: August 1, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division