Prevalence of self-reported musculoskeletal symptoms among office workers

Occup Med (Lond). 2008 Sep;58(6):436-8. doi: 10.1093/occmed/kqn072. Epub 2008 Jun 10.


Background: To date, no study has investigated the prevalence of self-reported musculoskeletal symptoms in all the body regions in the general population of office workers.

Aims: To estimate the 12-month prevalence of self-reported musculoskeletal symptoms in the head/neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists/hands, upper back, low back, hips, knees and ankles/feet among office workers.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional survey using a descriptive questionnaire distributed to 2000 office workers in 54 workplaces.

Results: A total of 1428 subjects (71%) returned the questionnaire, of whom 1185 were eligible for the study. The annual prevalence of self-reported musculoskeletal symptoms attributed to work was 63%. Sites of symptoms, in order of prevalence, were head/neck (42%), low back (34%), upper back (28%), wrists/hands (20%), shoulders (16%), ankles/feet (13%), knees (12%), hips (6%) and elbows (5%). Female office workers were more likely to report symptoms in the head/neck, shoulder, upper back and ankle/foot regions than male counterparts (P < 0.05). Office workers younger than 30 years were more likely to have symptoms in the upper back than those older than 49 years (P < 0.05).

Conclusion: Musculoskeletal symptoms are common among office workers with a high proportion experiencing symptoms in the spine. The prevalence of musculoskeletal symptoms in some body regions is dependent on gender and age. This indicates a need to develop specific strategies to reduce the occurrence of such symptoms among office workers.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Computer Terminals
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Musculoskeletal System / injuries*
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / prevention & control
  • Occupational Exposure / prevention & control
  • Occupational Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pain / epidemiology*
  • Pain / prevention & control
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Distribution
  • Surveys and Questionnaires