The aim of this study was to compare patients’ and physiotherapists’ views on triggers for LBP, and to identify any novel factors not previously reported. Most research on risk factors for low back pain (LBP) is guided by the views of clinicians and researchers, not patients. Consequently, potentially valuable information about risk factors for LBP is not available from those suffering the condition.This study aimed to compare patients’ and physiotherapists’ views on triggers for LBP, and to identify any novel factors not previously reported. 102 physiotherapists and 999 patients with a sudden, acute episode of LBP participated in this study. Participating physiotherapistswere asked to nominate the most likely short-term risk factors to trigger a LBP episode. Similarly, patients were asked what they thought had triggered their onset of LBP. Responses were coded into risk factor categories and sub-categories by two independent researchers.Endorsement of each category was compared using the Pearson chi-squared statistic. Both patients and physiotherapists endorsed biomechanical risk factors as the most important risk factor category (87.7% and 89.4% respectively) andhad similar levels of endorsement for three of the top five sub-categories (lifting, bending and prolonged sitting). There were significant differences in endorsement of awkward postures (13.4% vs 1.2%; p < 0.001) sports injuries (15.9% vs 4.7%; p < 0.001), physical trauma (3.4% vs 9.2%; p < 0.001) and unaccustomed activity (2.3%vs7.3%; p < 0.001) by patients and physiotherapists respectively.
Overall, patients’ and physiotherapists’views were remarkably similar. Both patients and physiotherapists endorsed lifting as the most important trigger for LBP and agreed on three of the top five (lifting, bending and prolonged sitting).No new risk factors were suggested by patients.