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Chronic neck and shoulder pain, age, and working conditions: longitudinal results from a large random sample in France
  1. B Cassou1,
  2. F Derriennic2,
  3. C Monfort2,
  4. J Norton3,
  5. A Touranchet4
  1. 1Laboratoire santé-vieillissement, UFR Paris Ouest, RFR 12 INSERM, 49 rue Mirabeau, 75016, Paris, France
  2. 2INSERM U 170, Villejuif, France
  3. 3INSERM U 149, Villejuif, France
  4. 4Inspection médicale du travail, Nantes, France
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr B Cassou, Laboratoire santé-vieillissement, 49 rue Mirabeau, 75016, Paris, France;


Aims: To analyse the effects of age and occupational factors on both the incidence and the disappearance of chronic neck and shoulder pain after a five year follow up period.

Methods: A prospective longitudinal investigation (ESTEV) was carried out in 1990 and 1995 in seven regions of France. A random sample of male and female workers born in 1938, 1943, 1948, and 1953 was selected from the occupational physicians’ files. In 1990, 21 378 subjects were interviewed (88% of those contacted), and 87% were interviewed again in 1995. Chronic neck and shoulder pain satisfying specific criteria, and psychosocial working conditions were investigated by a structured self administered questionnaire and a clinical examination.

Results: Prevalence (men 7.8%, women 14.8% in 1990) and incidence (men 7.3%, women 12.5% for the period 1990–95) of chronic neck and shoulder pain increased with age, and were more frequent among women than men in every birth cohort. The disappearance rate of chronic neck and shoulder pain decreased with age. Some adverse working conditions (repetitive work under time constraints, awkward work for men, repetitive work for women) contributed to the development of these disorders, independently of age. Psychosocial factors seemed to play a role in both the development and disappearance of chronic neck and shoulder pain. Data did not show specific interactions between age and working conditions.

Conclusions: The aging of the workforce appears to contribute to the widespread concern about chronic neck and shoulder pain. A better understanding of work activity regulation of older workers can open up new preventive prospects.

  • occupational exposure
  • aging
  • neck and shoulder pain

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