The Characteristics of Women Aged 59-64 Years Who Consult Health Care Practitioners for Back Pain from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health (ALSWH)


Medical Health Care
Back Pain


How to Cite

Maddela P, Frawley J, Jon Adams, Sibbritt D. The Characteristics of Women Aged 59-64 Years Who Consult Health Care Practitioners for Back Pain from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health (ALSWH). Integr J Med Sci [Internet]. 2021 Aug. 2 [cited 2021 Oct. 26];8. Available from:


Background: Back pain affects a substantial proportion of the adult population, and back pain sufferers tend to explore a wide range of health care options. This study investigates the use of medical and physiotherapy services by Australian women with back pain.
Method: This is a sub-study of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health (ALSWH), designed to investigate multiple factors affecting the health and well-being of women over a 20-year period. The study focuses on 1,851 women aged 59-64 years, who had indicated that they had previously sought help from a health care practitioner for back pain.
Results: Half of the women (56.5%) with back pain had consulted a general practitioner (GP), 16.2% had consulted a medical specialist, and 37.3% had consulted a physiotherapist for their back pain. Women with regular or continuous back pain were more likely to consult a GP (OR=3.98), medical specialist (OR=5.66) and a physiotherapist (OR=1.63).
Conclusion:  Australian women with back pain were more likely to consult a GP, medical specialist or physiotherapist if they had more regular/continuous back pain. Future research needs to investigate further the consultation and referral patterns identified in this study.


Walker BF, Muller R, Grant WD. Low back pain in Australian adults. Prevalence and associated disability. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2004 May; 27(4):238-44.

Webb R, Brammah T, Lunt M, Urwin M, Allison T, Symmons D. Prevalence and predictors of intense, chronic, and disabling neck and back pain in the UK general population. Spine. 2003;28(11):1195-202.

Murthy V, Sibbritt D, Adams J, Broom A, Kirby E, Refshauge KM. Consultations with complementary and alternative medicine practitioners amongst wider care options for back pain: a study of a nationally representative sample of 1,310 Australian women aged 60–65 years. Clin Rheumatol. 2014 Feb; 33(2):253-62.

Brooks PM. The burden of musculoskeletal disease—a global perspective. Clin Rheumatol. 2006 Nov; 25(6):778-81.

Woolf AD, Pfleger B. Burden of major musculoskeletal conditions. Bull World Health Organ. 2003; 81(9):646-56. [Accessed 2021 Jul 16]. Available From:

Broom AF, Kirby ER, Sibbritt DW, Adams J, Refshauge KM. Back pain amongst mid-age Australian women: A longitudinal analysis of provider use and self-prescribed treatments. Complement Ther Med. 2012 Oct; 20(5):275-82.

Haetzman M, Elliott A, Smith B, Hannaford P, Chambers WA. Chronic pain and the use of conventional and alternative therapy. Fam Pract. 2003 Apr; 20 (2):147-54.

Furlan AD, van Tulder M, Cherkin D, Tsukayama H, Lao L, Koes B, et al. Acupuncture and dry-needling for low back pain: an updated systematic review within the framework of the cochrane collaboration. Spine. 2005 Apr 15; 30 (8):944-63.

Burke A, Upchurch DM, Dye C, Chyu L. Acupuncture use in the United States: Findings from the national health interview survey. J Alterna Complement Med. 2006 Sep; 12(7):639-48.

Wade C, Chao M, Kronenberg F, Cushman L, Kalmuss D. Medical pluralism among American women: results of a national survey. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2008 Jun; 17(5):829-40.

Depont F, Hunsche E, Abouelfath A, Diatta T, Addra I, Grelaud A, et al. Medical and non-medical direct costs of chronic low back pain in patients consulting primary care physicians in France. Fundam Clin Pharmacol. 2010 Feb; 24 (1):101-8.

Hensher M. Improving general practitioner access to physiotherapy: a review of the economic evidence. Health Serv Manage Res. 1997 Nov; 10 (4):225-30.

Jørgensen CK, Olesen F. Predictors for referral to physiotherapy from general practice. Scand J Prim Health Care. 2001 Mar; 19(1):48-53.

WJ, Bryson L, Byles JE, Dobson AJ, Lee C, Mishra G, et al. Women’s Health Australia: recruitment for a national longitudinal cohort study. Women Health. 1999; 28(1):23-40.

Australia M. Medicare Australia–Annual Report 2009-10. Canberra; 2010. [Accessed 2021 Jul 16]. Available from:

Picavet HSJ, Struijs JN, Westert GP. Utilisation of health resources due to low back pain: survey and registered data compared. Spine. 2008 Feb 15; 33(4):436-44.

Becker A, Held H, Redaelli M, Strauch K, Chenot JF, Leonhardt C, et al. Low back pain in primary care: costs of care and prediction of future health care utilisation. Spine. 2010;35(18):1714-20.

Chenot JF, Leonhardt C, Keller S, Scherer M, Donner‐Banzhoff N, Pfingsten M, et al. The impact of specialist care for low back pain on health service utilisation in primary care patients: a prospective cohort study. Europ J pain. 2008; 12(3):275-83. [Accessed 2021 Jul 16]. Available from:

Macfarlane GJ, Beasley M, Jones EA, Prescott GJ, Docking R, Keeley P, et al. The prevalence and management of low back pain across adulthood: results from apopulation-based cross-sectional study (the MUSICIAN study). Pain. 2012 Jan; 153(1):27-32.

Hurwitz EL, Li D, Guillen J, Schneider MJ, Stevans JM, Phillips RB, et al.Variations in Patterns of Utilisation and Charges for the Care of Low Back Pain in North Carolina, 2000 to 2009: A Statewide Claims’ Data Analysis. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2016 May; 39(4):252-62.

Blanchette M-A, Rivard M, Dionne CE, Hogg-Johnson S, Steenstra I. Workers’ characteristics associated with the type of healthcare provider first seen for occupational back pain. BMC Musculoskeletal Disord. 2016 Oct 18; 17(1):428.

Depont F, Hunsche E, Abouelfath A, Diatta T, Addra I, Grelaud A, et al. Medical and non‐medical direct costs of chronic low back pain in patients consulting primary care physicians in France. Fundam Clinical Pharmacol. 2010 Feb; 24 (1):101-8.

Gore M, Sadosky A, Stacey BR, Tai K-S, Leslie D. The burden of chronic low back pain: clinical comorbidities, treatment patterns, and health care costs in usual care settings. Spine. 2012 May; 37 (11):E668-E77.

Hong J, Reed C, Novick D, Happich M. Costs associated with treatment of chronic low back pain: an analysis of the UK General Practice Research Database. Spine. 2013; 38(1):75-82.

Love T, Dowell AC, Salmond C, Crampton P. Quality indicators and variation in primary care: modelling GP referral patterns. Fam Pract. 2004 Apr; 21(2):160-5.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Australian Health, 2014. 2014.

Davies GP, Perkins D, McDonald J, Williams A. Integrated primary health care in Australia. Int J Integr Care. 2009 Oct 14; 9:e95.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Copyright (c) 2021 Pooja Maddela et al.


Metrics Loading ...