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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Back and neck pain are related to mental health problems in adolescence

Clare S Rees1, Anne J Smith24, Peter B O'Sullivan24, Garth E Kendall345 and Leon M Straker24*

Author Affiliations

1 School of Psychology and Speech Pathology, Curtin University, GPO Box U1987, Perth, WA 6845, Australia

2 School of Physiotherapy, Curtin University, GPO Box U1987, Perth, WA 6845, Australia

3 School of Nursing and Midwifery, Curtin University, GPO Box U1987, Perth, WA 6845, Australia

4 Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Roberts Road, Perth, WA 6008, Australia

5 Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute, Curtin University, GPO Box U1987, Perth, WA 6845, Australia

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:382  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-382

Published: 25 May 2011

Abstract

Background

There is a high prevalence of mental health problems amongst adolescents. In addition there is a high prevalence of spinal pain in this population. Evidence suggests that these conditions are related. This study sought to extend earlier findings by examining the relationship between mental health problems as measured by the Child Behaviour Check List (CBCL) and the experience of back and neck pain in adolescents.

Methods

One thousand five hundred and eighty participants (mean age 14.1 years) from the Western Australian Pregnancy (Raine) Study provided cross-sectional spinal pain and CBCL data.

Results

As predicted, there was a high prevalence of back and neck pain in this cohort. On the whole, females reported more mental health difficulties than males. There were strong relationships between the majority of symptom scales of the CBCL and back and neck pain. Scores on the CBCL were associated with higher odds of comorbid back and neck pain.

Conclusions

These findings strongly support the need to consider both psychological and pain symptoms when providing assessments and treatment for adolescents. Further research is required to inform causal models.

Keywords:
Child Behaviour Check List; Adolescence; Spinal Pain; Mental Health; Raine Study