Family Background Affects Risk of Disability from Back Disorders

A JOEM study finds family factors increase risk of disability due to low back disorders, suggesting prevention "“may need to start in early life," according to ACOEM.

Work and lifestyle factors affecting the risk of disability due to low back disorders tend to be shared among family members, according to a study using data from a large sample of "discordant" Finnish twins — that is, one twin was on disability and the other off disability. The study is published in the November issue of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine's Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. The lead author was Annina Ropponen ([email protected]), Ph.D., of the University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio.

The work is part of a continuing study of risk factors for future disability pension from low-back disorders; using twins' data helps to evaluate possible familial factors, according to ACOEM, which said several work-related factors were linked to an increased risk of disability pension, including monotonous work, lifting and carrying, physically heavy work, and previous unemployment.

The researchers concluded a healthy lifestyle predicted a lower risk of back-related disability, but when disability risk was compared between twin pairs, nearly all of the risk factors were "due to family background or other factors shared by co-twins" — whether related to genetics, social background, or both, they wrote.

"The effect of familial confounding highlights the importance of some early childhood factors or habits shared among family members," Ropponen and colleagues reported. Factors such as exercise, smoking, and body weight are influenced by family background, which in turn affects disability risk. "This may suggest that adopting a healthy lifestyle early in life is important if one wishes to avoid disability pension," they added.

The paper's citation is Ropponen A, Silventoinen K, Svedberg P, et al. Effects of work and lifestyle on risk for future disability pension due to low back diagnoses: a 30-year prospective study of Finnish twins. J Occup Environ Med. 2012;54(11):1330-6.

Download Center

  • EHS Buyer's Guide

    Download this buyer's guide to make more informed decisions as you're looking for an EHS management software system for your organization.

  • Online Safety Training Buyer's Guide

    Use this handy buyer's guide to learn the basics of selecting online safety training and how to use it at your workplace.

  • COVID Return-to-Work Checklist, Fall 2021

    Use this checklist as an aid to help your organization return to work during the COVID-19 pandemic in a safe and healthy manner.

  • SDS Buyer's Guide

    Learn to make informed decisions while searching for SDS Management Software.

  • Risk Matrix Guide

    Risk matrices come in many different shapes and sizes. Understanding the components of a risk matrix will allow you and your organization to manage risk effectively.

  • Industry Safe

Featured Whitepapers

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - September 2021

    September 2021

    Featuring:

    • COMBUSTIBLE DUST
      Managing Combustible Dust and Risk Mitigation
    • PPE: CONSTRUCTION
      The Rising Popularity of Safety Helmets on the Jobsite
    • PPE: ELECTRICAL SAFETY
      Five Tips for a Successful Wear Trial
    • SAFETY & HEALTH
      Medical Surveillance Versus Medical Screening
    View This Issue