The distribution and co-occurrence of physical and psychosocial risk factors for musculoskeletal disorders in a general working population

  • Johanna KaustoEmail author
  • Helena Miranda
  • Irmeli Pehkonen
  • Markku Heliövaara
  • Eira Viikari-Juntura
  • Svetlana Solovieva
Original Article



There is growing evidence that physical and psychosocial exposures at work increase the risk of musculoskeletal disorders. The aim of this study was to describe the distribution and co-occurrence of these risk factors in the working population.


We used data from the Health 2000 survey carried out in Finland in 2000–2001. The sample of our study consisted of 2,491 men and 2,613 women who had been actively working during the year preceding the survey. Logistic regression and exploratory factor analysis were used to analyze the co-occurrence of the work-related risk factors.


Exposure to high physical work load and several co-occurring work load factors was more prevalent among men than women. In women, as opposed to men, the highest exposure to most physical work load factors was found in their later work life. Gender and age showed weak associations with psychosocial work load factors. Low socioeconomic position, in both genders, was related to an increased risk of being exposed to several co-occurring physical or psychosocial factors. Physical exposures most frequently co-occurred with high job demands and low job control in men. Among women, physical exposures were found to co-occur with high job demands, low job control and job insecurity.


This study provides novel information on the occupational exposures in general working population. It appears that co-occurrence of physical and psychosocial exposures should be considered in research and prevention of musculoskeletal disorders. In addition, a broader set of occupational factors, e.g., work organization, are suggested to be included in future studies to cover all the relevant determinants.


Exposure Physical work load Psychosocial work load Co-occurrence Musculoskeletal disorders 


Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Johanna Kausto
    • 1
    Email author
  • Helena Miranda
    • 1
  • Irmeli Pehkonen
    • 1
  • Markku Heliövaara
    • 2
  • Eira Viikari-Juntura
    • 1
  • Svetlana Solovieva
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre of Expertise for Health and Work AbilityFinnish Institute of Occupational HealthHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.The National Institute for Health and WelfareHelsinkiFinland

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