Sleeping problems as a risk factor for subsequent musculoskeletal pain and the role of job strain: results from a one-year follow-up of the Malmö Shoulder Neck Study Cohort

Int J Behav Med. 2008;15(4):254-62. doi: 10.1080/10705500802365466.


Background: The role of sleeping problems in the causal pathway between job strain and musculoskeletal pain is not clear.

Purpose: To investigate the impact of sleeping problems and job strain on the one-year risk for neck, shoulder, and lumbar pain.

Method: A prospective study, using self-administered questionnaires, of a healthy cohort of 4,140 vocationally active persons ages 45-64, residing in the city of Malmo.

Results: At follow-up, 11.8% of the men and 14.8% of the women had developed pain. The odds ratios (OR) for pain at follow-up and sleeping problems at baseline were 1.72 (95% CI: 1.13-2.61) in men and 1.91 (1.35-2.70) in women. Regarding exposure to job strain, ORs were 1.39 (0.94-2.05) for men and 1.63 (1.18-2.23) for women. These statistically significant risks remained so when controlled for possible confounding. A modest synergistic effect was noted in women with concurrent sleeping problems and job strain, but not in men.

Conclusion: One in 15-20 of all new cases of chronic pain in the population could be attributed to sleeping problems. No evidence was found for a causal chain with job strain leading to musculoskeletal pain by the pathway of sleeping problems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Back Pain / epidemiology
  • Back Pain / psychology*
  • Causality
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neck Pain / epidemiology
  • Neck Pain / psychology*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Shoulder Pain / epidemiology
  • Shoulder Pain / psychology*
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / complications*
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / epidemiology
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden
  • Workload / psychology*
  • Workload / statistics & numerical data