You asked

I am writing to you under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to request the following information;

How many people in the UK suffered from back pain in 2015, comparing to 2016?
How many of those suffering from back pain in 2015 were women (UK), comparing to 2016?
How many working days were lost due to back pain in 2015, comparing to 2016 (UK)?

We said

I am writing in response to your freedom of information request asking for the following information:

  1. How many people in the UK suffered from back pain in 2015, comparing to 2016?
  2. How many of those suffering from back pain in 2015 were women (UK), comparing to 2016?
  3. How many working days were lost due to back pain in 2015, comparing to 2016 (UK)?

Information on health problems is collected on the Labour Force Survey. However, the information that you have requested in questions 1 and 2 is not readily available from any of the outputs that we currently hold.

The Health and Safety Executive have published up-to-date information on work related musculoskeletal disorders (including back disorders).This information might be of interest to you and can be found at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/Statistics/causdis/musculoskeletal/msd.pdf

Although we do not produce regular outputs containing the information you requested in your questions 1 and 2, you can request an ad-hoc analysis be produced to give this detailed information from our Social Surveys Division. Special extracts and tabulations of data are available to order (subject to legal frameworks, disclosure control, resources and agreements of costs, where appropriate). Such enquiries should be made to socialsurveys@ons.gsi.gov.uk

As this information is already available to you via this route, ONS considers that s.21(1) applies to this request and the information does not have to be supplied under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act. s.21(1) is an absolute exemption and no consideration of the public interest test needs to be applied.

Another route would be to access the Annual Population Survey datasets at the UK Data Service if you are able to run your own analysis. Details of how to access the data can be found here - http://ukdataservice.ac.uk/get-data/how-to-access.aspx

Data can be downloaded free of charge for non-commercial purposes but if charges are applicable, you will be notified during the ordering process. Advice for commercial users - https://www.ukdataservice.ac.uk/get-data/how-to-access/registration/commercialusers

Charges - http://ukdataservice.ac.uk/get-data/how-to-access/charges.aspx

We publish information on the number of working days lost through sickness absence by reason. The latest available data is for 2013 and shows that 30.6 million working days were lost due to musculoskeletal problems. In this publication musculoskeletal problems include back pain, neck and upper limb problems and other musculoskeletal problems. We are currently working on a more up-to-date version of this publication which will have estimates up to 2016. This will be published on our website later this year. The current version of the publication can be found at:

https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/labourproductivity/articles/sicknessabsenceinthelabourmarket/2014-02-25