Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation

, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 503–510 | Cite as

Musculoskeletal Pain and Psychological Distress in Hospital Patient Care Workers

  • Silje Endresen RemeEmail author
  • Jack T. Dennerlein
  • Dean Hashimoto
  • Glorian Sorensen


Purpose The aim of the study was to assess the association of psychological distress and musculoskeletal pain, how it is related to pain interference with work and multiple pain areas, and potential differences between the different pain areas in hospital patient care workers. Methods Data were collected from a cross-sectional survey of patient care workers (n = 1,572) from two large hospitals. Results Patient care workers with musculoskeletal pain reported significantly more psychological distress than those without pain. Psychological distress was significantly related to pain interference with work, even after adjusting for pain and demographics (OR = 1.05; CI = 1.01–1.09). The association was strongest for those with both upper- and lower body pain (OR = 1.12; CI = 1.06–1.18). Psychological distress was also independently associated with multiple pain areas. Conclusions Psychological distress was found to be higher in workers with musculoskeletal pain, and highest among workers with both upper and lower body pain. Distress was further significantly associated with pain interference with work as well as number of pain areas. The findings may be followed up with a longitudinal design to better determine the direction of the associations, and to investigate if psychological distress increases the risk of work disability and injuries.


Healthcare workers Nursing personnel Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) Musculoskeletal pain Psychological distress Pain interference with work 



This work received funding from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Silje Endresen Reme
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Jack T. Dennerlein
    • 1
    • 3
  • Dean Hashimoto
    • 4
  • Glorian Sorensen
    • 5
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Environmental HealthHarvard School of Public HealthBostonUSA
  2. 2.Liberty Mutual Research Institute for SafetyHopkintonUSA
  3. 3.Brigham and Women’s HospitalBostonUSA
  4. 4.Department of Occupational HealthPartners HealthCare, Inc.BostonUSA
  5. 5.Department of Society, Human Development, and HealthHarvard School of Public HealthBostonUSA
  6. 6.Center for Community Based ResearchDana Farber Cancer InstituteBostonUSA

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