General News Research — 02 August 2012

The 1.8 million Australians with dodgy backs are more likely to experience psychological distress and mental disorders, new figures show.

The figures were revealed today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) in a web-based snapshot of back problems.

One in 11 Australians, or 1.8 million people, had back problems in 2007-08 and were 2.5 times more likely to experience affective disorders such as depression, the data showed.

People with back problems were 1.8 times more likely to report an anxiety disorder and 1.3 times as likely to report a substance use disorder as people without back problems, AIHW spokeswoman Louise York said.

“They are also likely to report high or very high levels of psychological distress and more likely to report their health status as fair or poor,” Ms York said.

“They are also likely to report high or very high levels of psychological distress and more likely to report their health status as fair or poor,” Ms York said.

Those with back problems were 3.4 times as likely to report some form of limitation in basic activities including dressing or going to the toilet and mobility, including getting in or out of bed, on a daily basis.

“Out of the 44 per cent of people with back problems who also reported activity limitations, about two-thirds reported mild to moderate core limitations, about one-third reported severe or profound activity limitations,” Ms York said.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders were 25 per cent more likely to report having back problems than non-Indigenous Australians in 2004-05.

The snapshot said back problems had a considerable impact on both the sufferer and the community, with people aged 15 to 64 less likely to be employed full-time than people without back problems and 1.3 times more likely not to be in the labour force.

In 2009, 80 per cent of people with back problems had employment restrictions, were 1.1 times more likely to be restricted in the hours of work they could do and of those 36 per cent were permanently unable to work.

As first appeared in The Herald Sun, 31 July 2012

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