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Purpose : The present study aims at investigating the effects of low back pain (LBP), i.e., type of symptoms, activity limitations, frequency, duration, and severity on health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in a sample of 707 community-dwelling men and women aged ≥ 65 years living in Switzerland. Methods : The study is part of a larger survey conducted in Switzerland on a sample of older adults selected randomly from population records, stratified by age and sex. The Standardized Back Pain Definition was used to investigate LBP, and HRQoL was assessed by means of the EQ-5D, including Health Utility Index (HUI) measures. Results : For more than half of the sufferers, pain was chronic, occurred most days or every day and induced activity limitations. One-third of the sufferers reported sciatica symptoms. Individuals reporting every day pain, severe pain and more than 3 years since the last episode without pain lost nearly 10 points of HRQoL. Amongst the dimension of HRQoL, Mobility was the most affected by LBP. Conclusions : These results provide further insight into the impact of qualitative aspects of LBP and in particular the importance of radiating leg pain and pain frequency and duration. While LBP-related activity limitations had little impact on both self-rated overall health and HUI, radiating leg pain and pain frequency and duration were associated with significantly decreased scores on both dimensions.

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