European Spine Journal

, Volume 18, Issue 10, pp 1532–1540 | Cite as

Individual, physical and psychological risk factors for neck pain in Australian office workers: a 1-year longitudinal study

  • Julia M. HushEmail author
  • Zoe Michaleff
  • Christopher G. Maher
  • Kathryn Refshauge
Original Article


Neck pain is more prevalent in office workers than in the general community. To date, findings from prospective studies that investigated causal relationships between putative risk factors and the onset of neck pain in this population have been limited by high loss to follow-up. The aim of this research was to prospectively evaluate a range of risk factors for neck pain in office workers, using validated and reliable objective measures as well as attain an estimate of 1-year incidence. We assembled a cohort of 53 office workers without neck pain and measured individual, physical, workplace and psychological factors at baseline. We followed participants for 1 year to measure the incidence of neck pain. We achieved 100% participant follow-up. Cox regression analysis was applied to examine the relationship between the putative risk factors and the cumulative incidence of neck pain. The 1-year incidence proportion of neck pain in Australian office workers was estimated in this study to be 0.49 (95% CI 0.36–0.62). Predictors of neck pain with moderate to large effect sizes were female gender (HR: 3.07; 95% CI: 1.18–7.99) and high psychological stress (HR: 1.64; 95% CI: 0.66–4.07). Protective factors included increased mobility of the cervical spine (HR: 0.44; 95% CI: 0.19–1.05) and frequent exercise (HR: 0.64; 95% CI: 0.27–1.51). These results reveal that neck pain is common in Australian office workers and that there are risk factors that are potentially modifiable.


Neck pain Risk factors Incidence Office workers 



This study was supported financially by a University of Sydney Category B Cumberland Research Grant to Julia Hush. Chris Maher was funded by an Australian National Health and Medical Research Council senior research fellowship. The authors are grateful to Dr Roger Adams at the University of Sydney for helpful guidance with data analysis and interpretation.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julia M. Hush
    • 1
    Email author
  • Zoe Michaleff
    • 1
  • Christopher G. Maher
    • 2
  • Kathryn Refshauge
    • 1
  1. 1.Back Pain Research Group, Faculty of Health SciencesThe University of SydneyLidcombeAustralia
  2. 2.Musculoskeletal Division, The George Institute for International Health, Faculty of MedicineThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia

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