UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Reducing the burden of low back pain: results from a new microsimulation model Kopec, Jacek A.; Sayre, Eric C.; Cibere, Jolanda; Li, Linda C.; Wong, Hubert; Okhmatovskaia, Anya; Esdaile, John M.; Sayre, E. C.; Cibere, Jolanda, 1962; Li, Linda C.; Wong, Hubert; Okhmatovskaia, Anya; Esdaile, John


Background Low back pain (LBP) causes the highest morbidity burden globally. The purpose of the present study was to project and compare the impact of three strategies for reducing the population health burden of LBP: weight loss, ergonomic interventions, and an exercise program. Methods We have developed a microsimulation model of LBP in Canada using a new modeling platform called SimYouLate. The initial population was derived from Cycle 1 (2001) of the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS). We modeled an open population 20 years of age and older. Key variables included age, sex, education, body mass index (BMI), type of work, having back problems, pain level in persons with back problems, and exercise participation. The effects of interventions on the risk of LBP were obtained from the CCHS for the effect of BMI, the Global Burden of Disease Study for occupational risks, and a published meta-analysis for the effect of exercise. All interventions lasted from 2021 to 2040. The population health impact of the interventions was calculated as a difference in years lived with disability (YLDs) between the base-case scenario and each intervention scenario, and expressed as YLDs averted per intervention unit or a proportion (%) of total LBP-related YLDs. Results In the base-case scenario, LBP in 2020 was responsible for 424,900 YLDs in Canada and the amount increased to 460,312 YLDs in 2040. The effects of the interventions were as follows: 27,993 (95% CI 23,373, 32,614) YLDs averted over 20 years per 0.1 unit change in log-transformed BMI (9.5% change in BMI) among individuals who were overweight and those with obesity, 19,416 (16,275, 22,557) YLDs per 1% reduction in the proportion of workers exposed to occupational risks, and 26,058 (22,455, 29,661) YLDs averted per 1% increase in the proportion of eligible patients with back problems participating in an exercise program. Conclusions The study provides new data on the relationship between three types of interventions and the resultant reductions in LBP burden in Canada. According to our model, each of the interventions studied could potentially result in a substantial reduction in LBP-related disability.

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Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)