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Pain-Related Work Interference is a Key Factor in a Worker/Workplace Model of Work Absence Duration Due to Musculoskeletal Conditions in Canadian Nurses


Objective To examine the role of pain experiences in relation to work absence, within the context of other worker health factors and workplace factors among Canadian nurses with work-related musculoskeletal (MSK) injury. Methods Structural equation modeling was used on a sample of 941 employed, female, direct care nurses with at least one day of work absence due to a work-related MSK injury, from the cross-sectional 2005 National Survey of the Work and Health of Nurses. Results The final model suggests that pain severity and pain-related work interference mediate the impact of the following worker health and workplace factors on work absence duration: depression, back problems, age, unionization, workplace physical demands and low job control. The model accounted for 14 % of the variance in work absence duration and 46.6 % of the variance in pain-related work interference. Conclusions Our findings support a key role for pain severity and pain-related work interference in mediating the effects of workplace factors and worker health factors on work absence duration. Future interventions should explore reducing pain-related work interference through addressing workplace issues, such as providing modified work, reducing physical demands, and increasing job control.

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This project was funded by a research grant provided by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (Ontario). While the research and analysis are based on data from Statistics Canada, the opinions expressed do not represent the views of Statistics Canada. Peter Smith is supported by a New Investigator Award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Nancy Carnide is supported by a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

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Correspondence to Renée-Louise Franche.

Electronic Supplementary Material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.


Supplementary Figure 1: Initial theoretical model of worker factors associated with work absence duration due to work-related musculoskeletal injuries. (PDF 48 kb)


Supplementary Figure 2: Final theoretical model of worker and workplace factors with significant pathways in model-building phase. (PDF 78 kb)


Supplementary Table 1: Survey items for work absence, worker health factors and workplace factors from the 2005 National Survey of Work and Health of Nurses (DOC 46 kb)


Supplementary Table 2: Survey item distributions across levels of work absence duration. Proportional distribution by work absence duration, and Chi squared p-values for univariate associations are presented with total sample size for each predictor variable category. (DOC 92 kb)

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Murray, E., Franche, RL., Ibrahim, S. et al. Pain-Related Work Interference is a Key Factor in a Worker/Workplace Model of Work Absence Duration Due to Musculoskeletal Conditions in Canadian Nurses. J Occup Rehabil 23, 585–596 (2013).

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  • Work absence
  • Musculoskeletal injuries
  • Pain
  • Multimorbidity
  • Healthcare workers
  • Depression