OBJECTIVES: To investigate associations between different potential risk factors, related and not related to work, and disorders of the neck and upper extremities occurring up to 24 years later. METHODS: The study comprised 252 women and 232 men, Swedish citizens, 42-59 years of age and in a broad range of occupations. Information about potential risk factors was available from a former study conducted in 1969. Data on disorders of the neck, shoulder, and hand-wrist disorders were obtained retrospectively for the period 1970-93. RESULTS: Risk factors were found to differ between the sexes. Among women over-time work, high mental workload, and unsatisfactory leisure time were associated with disorders in the neck-shoulder region. Interaction was found between high mental workload and unsatisfactory leisure time. Neck symptoms earlier in life were associated with recurrent disorders. Hand and wrist disorders were associated mainly with physical demands at work. Among men blue collar work and a simultaneous presence of high mental workload and additional domestic workload predicted disorders in the neck-shoulder region. CONCLUSIONS: Factors related and not related to work were associated with disorders of the neck, shoulders, and hands and wrist up to 24 years later in life. These included factors related to working hours which previously have not been noted in this context. Interactions between risk factors both related and not related to work were commonly found.
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