Work characteristics predict the development of multi-site musculoskeletal pain

Jodi Oakman*, Astrid de Wind, Swenne G. van den Heuvel, Allard J. van der Beek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Purpose: Musculoskeletal pain in more than one body region is common and a barrier to sustaining employment. We aimed to examine whether work characteristics predict the development of multi-site pain (MSP), and to determine differences in work-related predictors between age groups. Methods: This study is based on 5136 employees from the Study on Transitions in Employment, Ability and Motivation (STREAM) who reported no MSP at baseline. Measures included physical, emotional, mental, and psychological job demands, social support and autonomy. Predictors of MSP were studied by logistic regression analyses. Univariate and multivariate analyses with age stratification (45–49, 50–54, 55–59, and 60–64 years) were done to explore differences between age groups. Results: All work characteristics with the exception of autonomy were predictive of the development of MSP, with odds ratios varying from 1.21 (95% CI 1.04–1.40) for mental job demands to 1.63 (95% CI 1.43–1.86) for physical job demands. No clear pattern of age-related differences in the predictors of MSP emerged, with the exception of social support, which was predictive of MSP developing in all age groups except for the age group 60–64 years. Conclusions: Adverse physical and psychosocial work characteristics are associated with MSP. Organisations need to comprehensively assess work environments to ensure that all relevant workplace hazards, physical and psychosocial, are identified and then controlled for across all age groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)653-661
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2017

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