Objective - To study the incidence of self-reported hack pain in a general population and to identify risk factors for sick leave and factors associated with recovery from back pain.
Population - A cross-sectional sample (n=1344) of a general adult population.
Setting - In a semi-urban Swedish county.
Design - One-year prospective study of a single cohort.
Main outcome measures - The incidence of back pain, risk factors for sick leave, factors predisposing for recovery.
Results - The incidence of back pain was 24 % (95% C.I. 22% to 27%). 79% of the pain episodes lasted less than two months. History of previous back pain predisposed to developing new episodes of back pain, while stress at work combined with low work satisfaction were associated factors. Factors predisposing to recovery were young age, skilled work, and living in the countryside. Unskilled work, pain debut at work, previous history and back pain at the start of the study were factors predisposing to sick listing for back pain. Long-term sick leave was predisposed by previous history of back pain and ongoing back pain at the start of the study.