Prevalence of back, neck and shoulder problems in the inner city: implications for the provision of physiotherapy services in primary healthcare.

C. Lock*, V. Allgar, K. Jones, G. Marples, C. Chandler, P. Dawson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: More general practitioners are offering physiotherapy services within primary healthcare; however, this provision may result in increased demand. Resource allocation, based on previous patterns of consultation for musculoskeletal conditions, may be inadequate since the need for treatment in the community may not have been met in the past. Therefore the aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of back, neck and shoulder problems that had restricted normal activity for more than one week during the last year and which health professionals (if any) patients had consulted about their symptoms. METHOD: A postal survey of 2400 adult patients selected at random from four general practices in Newcastle upon Tyne (600 from each practice). RESULTS: A total of 1546 questionnaires were returned, a 64% response rate. Overall, 40% of respondants reported having at least one back, neck and/or shoulder problem. Back problems were most common (30%), followed by those with neck (21%) and shoulder (20%) problems. Approximately one-third of those with problems consulted no one, a further third consulted a general practitioner and only one in six consulted a physiotherapist. CONCLUSIONS: There is a high prevalence of substantial back, neck and shoulder problems in the community and thus a wider provision of physiotherapy services within primary healthcare may be required to manage the considerable levels of potentially unmet need.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-169
Number of pages9
JournalPhysiotherapy research international : the journal for researchers and clinicians in physical therapy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes

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