The purpose of this study was to determine the incidence of low back pain in physical therapists and to identify personal and work-related characteristics of therapist reporting occupational low back pain. Two hundred and fifty questionnaires were mailed to a random sample of physical therapists from Oregon and Hawaii. Of the 160 correctly completed questionnaires, 39 (24%) therapists were found to have had occupational low back pain. Personal and work-related characteristics found to be associated with the incidence of occupational back pain were age, cigarette smoking, years of experience, frequency of transfers, work setting, and percentage of time spent sitting and stooping in a day's work. The reported mechanism of injury most frequently cited was "lifting with sudden maximum effort". Further research is needed to investigate the quality of patient care and the financial losses as a result of the incidence of occupational back pain in physical therapists.
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