Social support, job strain and musculoskeletal pain among female health care personnel

Scand J Work Environ Health. 1995 Dec;21(6):435-9. doi: 10.5271/sjweh.59.


Objectives: This study explored the relationship between psychosocial work environment and the musculoskeletal pain among health care personnel.

Materials and methods: Ninety registered nurses and nurse's aides working in different hospitals in or just outside Stockholm and working in different kinds of care constituted the study group. Data were collected by means of questionnaires, including questions about symptoms (low-back pain, pain in the neck, and pain in the shoulders), the perception of social support from co-workers and superiors, conflicts, feelings of isolation, poor relations with superiors, psychological demands, authority over decisions, and skill utilization (job-strain factors).

Results: An ordinal univariate logistic regression analysis showed that psychological demands, authority over decisions, skill utilization, and support at work had a statistically significant effect on symptoms from the lower back, while symptoms from the neck and shoulders were related to support a work only. When support at work and job strain were entered into a multivariate logistic regression model, a difference in the patterns of associations between low-back pain and symptoms from the neck and shoulders was found. Symptoms from the back were significantly related to job strain--the higher the strain, the more symptoms in the low back. Symptoms from the neck and shoulders on the other hand were more associated with social support at work--the lower the support score the more severe the symptoms.

Conclusions: Low-back pain seemed to be related to job strain, while symptoms from the neck and shoulders were to a greater extent related to relational and emotional factors.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Middle Aged
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / psychology
  • Nurses / psychology*
  • Nursing Assistants / psychology*
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / psychology
  • Social Support
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden / epidemiology