Introduction Reducing health inequalities is a worldwide public health priority. The objectives of this study are to characterise social inequalities related to WMSD-associated work exposures and how they differ by gender/sex.
Method Study data were from the 2007–2008 Quebec Survey on Working and Employment Conditions and OHS. Gender/sex stratified multivariable analyses were performed in three steps: 1) logistic regression models to identify work exposures associated with WMSD; 2) calculation of multivariate risk scores (MRS) based on the sum of workers’ exposures weighted by the magnitude of the exposure’s association with WMSD (i.e., its logistic regression coefficient from step 1); 3) linear regression models of the relations between MRS and three measures of socioeconomic status (SES).
Results In both genders, WMSD were significantly associated with high physical and quantitative work demands, emotionally demanding work, lack of promotion prospects and unemployment; additionally, in women, WMSD were associated with exposure to sexual harassment, psychological harassment, tense situations with clients, noise, and ≥16 hours computer work/week and, in men, low co-worker support and contradictory work demands. In both genders MRS was significantly associated with lower education and the two lowest socio-occupational classes; in men it was also associated with lower household income and technical occupations and, in women, professional occupations.
Discussion The MRS quantified, in a single statistic, the combined work exposures associated with WMSD. Lower occupational classes and educational categories have higher MRS. In women this relationship is more complex, with both less-qualified and professional occupational groups associated with higher MRS. Variations in relations between SES and specific work exposures explain some of these differences. In both genders, the strongest association of MRS was to elementary occupations. Low paid vulnerable workers in such occupations often have less access to adequate OH&S and labour standards protection. These results have implications for targeting preventive interventions.
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