Hard work at home: musculoskeletal pain among female homemakers

Ergonomics. 2012;55(2):201-11. doi: 10.1080/00140139.2011.574157. Epub 2011 Aug 17.


This study explores the relationship between housework and musculoskeletal symptoms among homemakers, adjusting for social, demographic and economic factors. A cross-sectional survey was carried out on 435 women from Nabaa, a low-income community in Lebanon. In total, 77% of women reported having musculoskeletal pain in the previous 12 months. Both psychosocial and physical factors showed significant associations with musculoskeletal symptoms. Related psychosocial factors included feelings of stress associated with homemaking and homemakers' number of children and self-rated health. The physical factors associated with musculoskeletal pain were feeling fatigued at the end of a housework day, working long hours and working in awkward postures or frequently engaging in repetitive hand movements. Ergonomic stressors were also associated with pain in the back and upper and lower extremities. Women from this community engage in a large number of hours of housework that, alongside other factors, were associated with high prevalence of musculoskeletal pain.

Practitioner summary: This study contributes to the literature by studying women's housework activities in association with musculoskeletal pain. The role of women in homemaking activities is explored together with physical exposures leading to reported symptoms. This study adds a perspective of a Middle Eastern context to the literature of women's musculoskeletal health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Employment / statistics & numerical data
  • Ergonomics
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Household Work*
  • Humans
  • Lebanon / epidemiology
  • Logistic Models
  • Middle Aged
  • Musculoskeletal Pain / epidemiology*
  • Musculoskeletal Pain / etiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors