Objectives To assess the prevalence of new onset and persistent multisite musculoskeletal pain in three occupational groups, and identify potential risk factors.
Methods Our study sample consisted of nurses, postal clerks and office workers (N=596). Structured personal interviews were done at two time points: at baseline and at follow-up 1 year later. We inquired about pain in the low back, neck, shoulder, elbow, wrist/hand and knee, and about demographic, individual and occupational characteristics. We defined multisite pain as pain in two or more body sites, and identified two health outcomes: new onset and persistent multisite pain. We applied logistic regression and calculated ORs adjusted for potential confounding factors.
Results 518 subjects participated in both phases (response rate 87%). Sixty-eight percent of participants reported multisite pain at baseline and of those, 62% also reported multisite pain at follow up. The incidence of new onset multisite pain was 16%. Forty or more hours per week at work was significantly associated with new onset multisite pain (OR 5.0, 95% CI 1.1 to 24.0). Heavy physical load (OR 5.1, 95% CI 2.1 to 12.2), very low mood (1.9, 1.0 to 3.2), increased somatising tendency (3.3, 1.9 to 5.5), and strong work causation beliefs (2.2, 1.3 to 3.8) seemed to predict persistence of multisite pain at follow up.
Conclusions Persistent multisite pain was common in our study sample and was predicted both by occupational and individual factors. New onset multisite pain was predicted by hours per week at work.
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