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Individual and work related risk factors for neck pain among office workers: a cross sectional study


Work related neck disorders are common problems in office workers, especially among those who are intensive computer users. It is generally agreed that the etiology of work related neck disorders is multidimensional which is associated with, and influenced by, a complex array of individual, physical and psychosocial factors. The aim of the current study was to estimate the one-year prevalence of neck pain among office workers and to determine which physical, psychological and individual factors are associated with these prevalences. Five hundred and twelve office workers were studied. Information was collected by an online questionnaire. Self-reported neck pain during the preceding 12 months was regarded as a dependent variable, whereas different individual, work-related physical and psychosocial factors were studied as independent variables. The 12 month prevalences of neck pain in office workers was 45.5%. Multivariate analysis revealed that women had an almost two-fold risk compared with men (OR = 1.95, 95% CI 1.22–3.13). The odds ratio for age indicates that persons older than 30 years have 2.61 times more chance of having neck pain than younger individuals (OR = 2.61, 95% CI 1.32–3.47). Being physically active decreases the likelihood of having neck pain (OR = 1.85, 95% CI 1.14–2.99). Significant associations were found between neck pain and often holding the neck in a forward bent posture for a prolonged time (OR = 2.01, 95% CI 1.20–3.38), often sitting for a prolonged time (OR = 2.06, 95% CI 1.17–3.62) and often making the same movements per minute (OR = 1.63, 95% CI 1.02–2.60). Mental tiredness at the end of the workday (OR = 2.05, 95% CI 1.29–3.26) and shortage of personnel (OR = 1.71, 95% CI 1.06–2.76) are significantly associated with neck pain. The results of this study indicate that physical and psychosocial work factors, as well as individual variables, are associated with the frequency of neck pain. These association patterns suggest also opportunities for intervention strategies in order to stimulate an ergonomic work place setting and increase a positive psychosocial work environment.

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The authors would like to thank Ms. Benedicte Maere and Mr. Bert Sticker for their assistance in collecting the data.

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Correspondence to B. Cagnie.

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Cagnie, B., Danneels, L., Van Tiggelen, D. et al. Individual and work related risk factors for neck pain among office workers: a cross sectional study. Eur Spine J 16, 679–686 (2007).

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  • Neck pain
  • Risk factors
  • Office work
  • Work related
  • Psychosocial