Are job strain and sleep disturbances prognostic factors for neck/shoulder/arm pain? A cohort study of a general population of working age in Sweden

BMJ Open. 2014 Jul 8;4(7):e005103. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2014-005103.


Objective: To study whether job strain, that is, psychological job demands and decision latitude, and sleep disturbances among persons with occasional neck/shoulder/arm pain (NSAP) are prognostic factors for having experienced at least one episode of troublesome NSAP, and to determine whether sleep disturbances modify the association between job strain and troublesome NSAP.

Design: Prospective cohort study.

Setting: Stockholm, Sweden.

Participants: A population-based cohort of individuals with occasional NSAP (n=6979) who answered surveys in 2006 and 2010.

Outcome measures: Report of at least one episode of troublesome NSAP in 2010.

Results: The ORs for troublesome NSAP at follow-up were in individuals exposed to passive jobs 1.2 (95% CI 0.9 to 1.4); to active jobs 1.3 (95% CI 1.1 to 1.5); to high strain 1.5 (95% CI 1.0 to 2.4); to mild sleep disturbances 1.4 (95% CI 1.3 to 1.6) and to severe sleep disturbances 2.2 (95% CI 1.6 to 3.0). High strain and active jobs were associated with having experienced at least one episode of troublesome NSAP during the previous 6 months in persons with sleep disturbances, but not in individuals without sleep disturbances.

Conclusions: Our results indicate that high strain, active jobs and sleep disturbances are prognostic factors that should be taken into account when implementing preventive measures to minimise the risk of troublesome NSAP among people of working age. We suggest that sleep disturbances may modify the association between high strain and troublesome NSAP.

Keywords: musculoskeletal diseases; prevention; sleep; stress; work.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arm*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Musculoskeletal Pain / epidemiology
  • Musculoskeletal Pain / etiology*
  • Neck Pain / epidemiology
  • Neck Pain / etiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / complications*
  • Prognosis
  • Shoulder Pain / epidemiology
  • Shoulder Pain / etiology*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / complications*
  • Stress, Psychological / complications*
  • Sweden
  • Young Adult