Table 1

Personal risk factors that were analysed

SexMale (n=2935); female (n=5675)
Age at baseline (years)20–29 (n=1944); 30–39 (n=2777); 40–49 (n=2499); 50–59 (n=1390)
SmokingNever (n=5555); ex-smoker (n=1201); current (n=1831); not known (n=23)
Mental healthGood (n=3414); intermediate (n=2603); poor (n=2562); not known (n=31)
No of distressing somatic symptoms0 (n=5138); 1 (n=1894); ≥2 (n=1532); not known (n=46)
Adverse health beliefs about low back pain*
 Work-relatednessNo (n=5628); yes (n=2982)
 Physical activityNo (n=6949); yes (n=1661)
 PrognosisNo (n=7402); yes (n=1208)
Adverse health beliefs about arm/shoulder/hand pain†‡§
 Work-relatednessNo (n=5989); yes (n=2621)
 Physical activityNo (n=7543); yes (n=1067)
 PrognosisNo (n=7722); yes (n=888)
Occupational activities in an average working day
Lift weights of 25 kg or more by hand*†‡No (n=5510); yes (n=3100)
Work for >1 hour in total with hands above shoulder height†‡No (n=5812); yes (n=2798)
Use of keyboard or typewriter for >4 hours in total†‡§No (n=5496); yes (n=3114)
Other tasks involving repeated movements of the wrist or fingers for >4 hours in total§No (n=3230); yes (n=5380)
Psychosocial aspects of work
Work >50 hours per weekNo (n=6670); yes (n=1940)
Time pressureNo (n=2181); yes (n=6429)
IncentivesNo (n=6230); yes (n=2380)
Lack of supportNo (n=6359); yes (n=2251)
Job dissatisfactionNo (n=6950); yes (n=1660)
Lack of controlNo (n=6878); yes (n=1732)
Job insecurityNo (n=6074); yes (n=2536)
Previous sickness absence
Absence for >5 days in total in year before baseline for non-musculoskeletal problemsNo (n=7841); yes (n=769)
Pain propensity
Pain propensity index¶0; 1; 2; 3; 4; 5; ≥6 (numbers varied by outcome)
  • *Analyses of sickness absence for low back pain.

  • †Analyses of sickness absence for neck pain.

  • ‡Analyses of sickness absence for shoulder pain.

  • §Analyses of sickness absence for wrist/hand pain.

  • ¶For each outcome, pain propensity index was defined according to the number of anatomical sites, excluding the outcome site, that had been painful in the year before baseline (see text).