All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Kathleen C Brown

Advisory Committee Members

M Gail Hill

Elizabeth H Maples

Robert E Thomas

Michael T Weaver

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) School of Nursing


Occupational back pain is a significant health and safety problem in many industrialized countries for persons who are required to perform work-related forceful movement and lifting. Firefighters, an occupational group at high risk for back injury, perform many job tasks under hazardous work conditions. One-third of firefighters retire due to job-related health and safety problems and 49.4% of this group retire as a result of back pain, the leading cause of early retirements in firefighters. Most studies have examined factors influencing back problems among other workers, especially nurses and hospital workers, but few studies have investigated factors that influence back pain in municipal workers such as firefighters. The purposes of this study were to: 1) identify the best subset of predictors of back pain in firefighters from the set of occupational stress and demographic factors (age, history of back pain, BMI, and waist circumference); 2) test whether adding job satisfaction and perceived supervisor social support to the best predictive model increased predictive ability; and 3) to test whether adding physical fitness to the model increased predictive ability. iii A non-experimental, correlational design was used in this study. A convenience sample of 298 male firefighters completed the Job Stress Survey, Job Satisfaction Survey, and the Content of Communication scale instruments. Almost one-third (30.20%) of the firefighters reported current back pain. The set of factors that included occupational stress, age, history of back pain, and BMI predicted the variability in current back pain among firefighters (pseudo R2 = 0.351). No statistically significant improvement to the model was found with the addition of perceived supervisor support and job satisfaction (pseudo R2 = 0.359) and the addition of physical fitness (pseudo R2 = 0.365). Age and history of back pain were significant independent predictors of back pain. Statistically significant independent relationships between job satisfaction and occupational stress and between perceived supervisor support and job satisfaction were found. Further studies should validate the model and explore relationships among perceived supervisor support, occupational stress, and job satisfaction in other occupational groups including nurses and police officers, and in independent samples of firefighters.

Included in

Nursing Commons