Stressful psychosocial work environment increases risk for back pain among retail material handlers

Am J Ind Med. 2003 Feb;43(2):179-87. doi: 10.1002/ajim.10165.


Background: Back pain is a major source of lost work time. Occupational physical activity only accounts for a fraction of low back pain; therefore, there is growing interest in investigating other possible causes of back pain including the psychosocial work environment.

Methods: Material handlers (N = 6,311) in 160 newly opened stores were interviewed at study entry and approximately 6 months later. Factor analysis was used to reduce the 37 psychosocial questionnaire items to seven distinct factors.

Results: After adjusting for history of back problems and work-related lifting, risk of back pain was moderately increased among employees who reported high job intensity demands (odds ratio (OR) = 1.8), job dissatisfaction (OR = 1.7), and high job scheduling demands (OR = 1.6).

Conclusions: Modification of the psychosocial work environment for material handlers in large retail stores may help reduce back pain among employees.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Back Pain / epidemiology*
  • Back Pain / psychology*
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / psychology*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Peer Group
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Workload
  • Workplace / psychology