Different risk factors for musculoskeletal complaints and musculoskeletal sickness absence

Scand J Work Environ Health. 2004 Feb;30(1):56-63. doi: 10.5271/sjweh.765.


Objectives: The aim of this study was to investigate whether individual, work-related physical and psychosocial risk factors involved in the occurrence of musculoskeletal complaints also determine musculoskeletal sickness absence.

Methods: This cross-sectional study used a self-administered questionnaire to collect data on individual and work-related risk factors and the occurrence of musculoskeletal complaints and musculoskeletal sickness absence among 373 employees of laundry-works and dry-cleaning establishments (response rate 87%). Logistic regression models were used to determine associations between risk factors and the occurrence of musculoskeletal complaints and sickness absence due to these complaints.

Results: Both work-related physical and psychosocial factors showed strong associations with low-back pain and upper-extremity complaints. Work-related physical factors did not influence sickness absence, whereas psychosocial factors showed some associations with sickness absence. Sickness absence was associated with The Netherlands as the country of birth [odds ratio (OR) 0.3, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 0.2-0.6], and female workers had an episode of sickness absence due to low-back pain less often (OR 0.5, 95% CI 0.3-0.9), but more often due to upper-extremity complaints (OR 2.2, 95% CI 1.14.5).

Conclusions: Work-related physical and psychosocial factors largely determine the occurrence of low-back pain and upper-extremity complaints, whereas individual factors predominantly determine whether persons with these musculoskeletal complaints take sick leave.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Laundering
  • Logistic Models
  • Low Back Pain / epidemiology*
  • Low Back Pain / etiology
  • Low Back Pain / psychology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / etiology
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / psychology
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology
  • Occupational Diseases / psychology
  • Risk Factors
  • Sick Leave / statistics & numerical data*
  • Social Support
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Upper Extremity / injuries*
  • Workforce
  • Workload / classification
  • Workload / psychology