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Physical risk factors for developing non-specific neck pain in office workers: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Abstract

Introduction

Identifying risk factors associated with the development of work-related neck pain in office workers is necessary to facilitate the development of prevention strategies that aim to minimise this prevalent and costly health problem. The aim of this systematic review is to identify individual worker (e.g., lifestyle activity, muscular strength, and posture) and workplace (e.g., ergonomics and work environment) physical factors associated with the development of non-specific neck pain in office workers.

Methods

Studies from 1980 to 2016 were identified by an electronic search of Pubmed, CINAHL, EMBASE, Psychlnfo and Proquest databases. Two authors independently screened search results, extracted data, and assessed risk of bias using the epidemiological appraisal instrument (EAI). A random effect model was used to estimate the risk of physical factors for neck pain.

Results

Twenty papers described the findings of ten prospective cohort studies and two randomized controlled trials. Low satisfaction with the workplace environment (pooled RR 1.28; CI 1.07–1.55), keyboard position close to the body [pooled RR 1.46; (CI 1.07–1.99)], low work task variation [RR 1.27; CI (1.08–1.50)] and self-perceived medium/high muscular tension (pooled RR 2.75/1.82; CI 1.60 /1.14–4.72/2.90) were found to be risk factors for the development of neck pain.

Conclusions

This review found evidence for a few number of physical risk factors for the development of neck pain, however, there was also either limited or conflicting factors. Recommendations for future studies evaluating risk factors are reported and how these may contribute to the prevention of neck pain in office workers.

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Acknowledgements

The authors wish to acknowledge all the authors for the included studies in this review.

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Correspondence to Deokhoon Jun.

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Jun, D., Zoe, M., Johnston, V. et al. Physical risk factors for developing non-specific neck pain in office workers: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 90, 373–410 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00420-017-1205-3

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Keywords

  • Neck pain
  • Office worker
  • Physical factors
  • Individual factors
  • Ergonomics
  • Work environment
  • Systematic review
  • Meta-analysis