Relations between occupational, psychosocial and individual factors and three different categories of back disorder among supermarket workers

Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 2005 Sep;78(8):613-24. doi: 10.1007/s00420-005-0002-6. Epub 2005 Oct 12.


Objectives: Up-to-date store-wide studies regarding low back pain (LBP) among supermarket/hypermarket workers are lacking. We investigated 12-month store-wide prevalence of different categories of LBP and possible associated biomechanical, individual/psychosocial risk factors across a large supermarket/hypermarket chain.

Methods: We performed a cross-sectional study of 3,702 subjects working in a group of small/medium-sized supermarkets (n=100) and large hypermarkets (n=7) belonging to a single chain in central-northern Italy applying established ergonomics/job-satisfaction policies. Data regarding the various departments were collected by a medical check-list, physical examination and questionnaire-all conducted by qualified physicians--and were analyzed in relation to a comprehensive biomechanical risk analysis.

Results: The overall 12-month prevalence of LBP in our sample (with a 82% response rate) was 34.5% (36.6% for females and 30.7% for males), with few differences being found between supermarkets and hypermarkets. Different types of LBP showed significant associations with stress-related psychosomatic symptoms, but not with job satisfaction (which was high).

Conclusions: These encouraging data provide relevant information regarding workers operating in supermarkets/hypermarkets with an active commitment to ergonomic and job-satisfaction policies.

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Ergonomics
  • Food Handling*
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Lifting / adverse effects
  • Low Back Pain / epidemiology
  • Low Back Pain / physiopathology
  • Low Back Pain / psychology*
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / physiopathology
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / physiopathology
  • Occupational Diseases / psychology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Somatoform Disorders / epidemiology
  • Somatoform Disorders / physiopathology
  • Somatoform Disorders / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological / complications