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Risk factors in the onset of neck/shoulder pain in a prospective study of workers in industrial and service companies
  1. J H Andersen1,
  2. A Kaergaard1,
  3. S Mikkelsen2,
  4. U F Jensen1,
  5. P Frost1,
  6. J P Bonde4,
  7. N Fallentin3,
  8. J F Thomsen2
  1. 1Department of Occupational Medicine, Herning Hospital, Denmark
  2. 2Department of Occupational Medicine, Copenhagen County Hospital, Glostrup, Denmark
  3. 3National Institute of Occupational Health, Copenhagen, Denmark
  4. 4Department of Occupational Medicine, Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr J H Andersen, Department of Occupational Medicine, Herning Hospital, Gl. Landevej 61, DK-7400 Herning, Denmark; 


Aims: To quantify the relative contribution of work related physical factors, psychosocial workplace factors, and individual factors and aspects of somatisation to the onset of neck/shoulder pain.

Methods: Four year prospective cohort study of workers from industrial and service companies in Denmark. Participants were 3123 workers, previously enrolled in a cross sectional study, where objective measurement of physical workplace factors was used. Eligible participants were followed on three subsequent occasions with approximately one year intervals. Outcomes of interest were: new onset of neck/shoulder pain (symptom cases); and neck/shoulder pain with pressure tenderness in the muscles of the neck/shoulder region (clinical cases).

Results: During follow up, 636 (14.1%) participants reported neck/shoulder pain of new onset; among these, 82 (1.7%) also had clinical signs of substantial muscle tenderness. High shoulder repetition was related to being a future symptom case, and a future clinical case. Repetition was strongly intercorrelated with other physical measures. High job demands were associated with future status as a symptom case, and as a clinical case. A high level of distress predicted subsequent neck/shoulder pain, and neck/shoulder pain with pressure tenderness.

Conclusions: High levels of distress, and physical and psychosocial workplace factors are predictors of onset of pain in the neck and/or shoulders, particularly pain with pressure tenderness in the muscles.

  • video observations
  • physical work load
  • regional pain
  • neck
  • shoulders
  • CI, confidence interval
  • OR, odds ratio

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  • The study was supported by grants from the Danish Working Environment Fund and the Danish Medical Research Council