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1.  Patients' views on responsibility for the management of musculoskeletal disorders – A qualitative study 
Musculoskeletal disorders are very common and almost inevitable in an individual's lifetime. Enabling self-management and allowing the individual to take responsibility for care is stated as desired in the management of these disorders, but this may be asking more than people can generally manage. A willingness among people to take responsibility for musculoskeletal disorders and not place responsibility out of their hands or on employers but to be shared with medical professionals has been shown. The aim of the present study was to describe how people with musculoskeletal disorders think and reason regarding responsibility for prevention, treatment and management of the disorder.
Individual interviews with a strategic sample of 20 individuals with musculoskeletal disorders were performed. The interviews were tape-recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed according to qualitative content analysis.
From the interviews an overarching theme was identified: own responsibility needs to be met. The analysis revealed six interrelated categories: Taking on responsibility, Ambiguity about responsibility, Collaborating responsibility, Complying with recommendations, Disclaiming responsibility, and Responsibility irrelevant. These categories described different thoughts and reasoning regarding the responsibility for managing musculoskeletal disorders. Generally the responsibility for prevention of musculoskeletal disorders was described to lie primarily on society/authorities as they have knowledge of what to prevent and how to prevent it. When musculoskeletal disorders have occurred, health care should provide fast accessibility, diagnosis, prognosis and support for recovery. For long-term management, the individuals themselves are responsible for making the most out of life despite disorders.
No matter what the expressions of responsibility for musculoskeletal disorders are, own responsibility needs to be met by society, health care, employers and family in an appropriate way, with as much or as little of the "right type" of support needed, based on the individual's expectations.
PMCID: PMC2753559  PMID: 19686602
2.  Prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders in dentists 
The prevalence of musculoskeletal complaints in dentists is high although relatively few studies had focus in this profession. The aim of this study was to investigate the relations between physical, psychosocial, and individual characteristics and different endpoints of musculoskeletal complaints of low back, neck, shoulders and hand/wrist.
A questionnaire survey was carried out among 430 dentists (response 88%) in Thessaloniki, Greece. Questions include data on physical and psychosocial workload, need for recovery, perceived general health and (i) the occurrence of musculoskeletal complaints in the past 12 months, (ii) chronic complaints during at least 1 month, complaints which led to (iii) sickness absence, and (iv) medical care seeking. In logistic regression analysis odds ratios were estimated for all relevant risk factors.
62% of dentists reported at least one musculoskeletal complaint, 30% chronic complaints, 16% had spells of absence and, 32% sought medical care. Self-reported factors of physical load were associated with the occurrence of back pain (OR = 1.59), shoulder pain (OR = 2.57) and, hand/wrist pain (OR = 3.46). With the exception of hand/wrist complaints, the physical factors were not associated with chronic complaints and musculoskeletal sickness absence. Physical load showed a trend with the number of musculoskeletal complaints with ORs of 2.50, 3.07 and 4.40 for two, three and four musculoskeletal complaints, respectively. No consistent influence of psychosocial factors on complaints, chronicity, sickness absence and medical care seeking was observed. A perceived moderate general health was a significant factor for chronic complaints, comorbidity and medical care seeking where high perceived exertion was significant for absenteeism. Living alone was also related with increased absenteeism due to shoulder pain (OR = 5.01) and hand/wrist (OR = 4.07).
The physical load among dentists seems to put them at risk for the occurrence of musculoskeletal disorders. More than one and severe complaints are related to perceived general health while high perceived exertion and social characteristics are associated with sickness absence. Chronic symptoms seem to determine medical care seeking. Ergonomic interventions may have a greater impact in prevention of hand/wrist complaints. When investigating the influence of work-related risk factors on musculoskeletal health, psychosocial and other personal characteristics should be taken into account.
PMCID: PMC441388  PMID: 15189564
3.  International variation in absence from work attributed to musculoskeletal illness: findings from the CUPID study 
To quantify the variation in rates of absence due to musculoskeletal pain across 47 occupational groups (mostly nurses and office workers) from 18 countries, and to explore personal and group-level risk factors that might explain observed differences.
A standardised questionnaire was used to obtain information about musculoskeletal pain, sickness absence and possible risk factors in a cross-sectional survey of 12 416 workers (92–1017 per occupational group). Additionally, group-level data on socioeconomic variables, such as sick pay and unemployment rates, were assembled by members of the study team in each country. Associations of sickness absence with risk factors were examined by Poisson regression.
Overall, there were more than 30-fold differences between occupational groups in the 12-month prevalence of prolonged musculoskeletal sickness absence, and even among office workers carrying out similar occupational tasks, the variation was more than tenfold. Personal risk factors included older age, lower educational level, tendency to somatise, physical loading at work and prolonged absence for non-musculoskeletal illness. However, these explained little of the variation between occupational groups. After adjustment for individual characteristics, prolonged musculoskeletal sickness absence was more frequent in groups with greater time pressure at work, lower job control and more adverse beliefs about the work-relatedness of musculoskeletal disorders.
Musculoskeletal sickness absence might be reduced by eliminating excessive time pressures in work, maximising employees’ responsibility and control and providing flexibility of duties for those with disabling symptoms. Care should be taken not to overstate work as a cause of musculoskeletal injury.
PMCID: PMC3710073  PMID: 23695413
international; risk factors; time pressure
To quantify the variation in rates of absence for musculoskeletal pain across 47 occupational groups (mostly nurses and office workers) from 18 countries, and to explore personal and group-level risk factors that might explain observed differences.
A standardised questionnaire was used to obtain information about musculoskeletal pain, sickness absence and possible risk factors in a cross-sectional survey of 12,416 workers (92 to 1017 per occupational group). In addition, group-level data on socioeconomic variables such as sick pay and unemployment rates were assembled by members of the study team in each country. Associations of sickness absence with risk factors were examined by Poisson regression.
Overall, there were more than 30-fold differences between occupational groups in the 12-month prevalence of prolonged musculoskeletal sickness absence, and even among office workers carrying out similar occupational tasks, the variation was more than ten-fold. Personal risk factors included older age, lower educational level, tendency to somatise, physical loading at work and prolonged absence for non-musculoskeletal illness. However, these explained little of the variation between occupational groups. After adjustment for individual characteristics, prolonged musculoskeletal sickness absence was more frequent in groups with greater time pressure at work, lower job control, and more adverse beliefs about the work-relatedness of musculoskeletal disorders.
Musculoskeletal sickness absence might be reduced by eliminating excessive time pressures in work, maximising employees’ responsibility and control, and providing flexibility of duties for those with disabling symptoms. Care should be taken not to overstate work as a cause of musculoskeletal injury.
PMCID: PMC3710073  PMID: 23695413
Sickness absence; musculoskeletal; international; risk factors; time pressure; job control
5.  Prevalence of work related musculoskeletal disorders in active union carpenters 
OBJECTIVES: To determine the prevalence and risk factors for work related musculoskeletal disorders among union carpenters. METHODS: A detailed questionnaire on musculoskeletal symptoms and work history was administered to 522 carpenters. The symptom questions assessed if carpenters experienced pain, numbness, or tingling in a particular body region. A subset of this group then received a physical examination of the upper extremities and knees. RESULTS: The study group was primarily white (94.9%) and male (97.8%) with a mean age of 42.3 years. The highest prevalence of work related musculoskeletal disorders cases by carpentry specialty ranged from 20%-24% for those doing drywall or ceiling, finishing or framing, and the building of concrete forms. Generally, as duration of employment increased, the prevalence of symptoms increased. An adjusted logistic regression analysis showed that the group with the longest (> or = 20 years) duration of employment in carpentry was significantly associated with work related musculoskeletal disorders of the shoulders (odds ratio (OR) 3.2, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.1 to 8.9), hands or wrists (OR 3.1, 95% CI 1.1 to 8.4), and knees (OR 3.5, 95% CI 1.3 to 9.2). Also, analyses showed that carpenters who reported that they had little or no influence over their work schedule had significant increases of work related musculoskeletal disorders of the shoulders, hips, and knees with ORs of 1.9 (95% CI 1.1 to 3.2), 2.9 (95% CI 1.1 to 7.2), and 2.3 (95% CI 1.2 to 4.1), respectively. Feeling exhausted at the end of day was also a significant risk factor for work related musculoskeletal disorders of the knee (OR 1.8, 95% CI 1.1 to 3.1). Upper extremity disorders were the most prevalent work related musculoskeletal disorders reported among all carpenters. Drywall or ceiling activities involve a considerable amount of repetitive motion and awkward postures often with arms raised holding heavy dry walls in place, whereas form work is notable for extensive lumbar flexion and had the two highest rates of work related musculoskeletal disorders. The psychosocial element of job control was associated with both upper and lower extremity disorders. These union carpenters, who were relatively young, already were experiencing considerable work related physical problems. CONCLUSION: This study supports the need for vigilant ergonomic intervention at job sites and early ergonomic education as an integral part of apprenticeship school training to ensure that carpenters remain fit and healthy throughout their working lifetime.
PMCID: PMC1757596  PMID: 9764103
6.  Management of common musculoskeletal problems: a survey of Ontario primary care physicians. 
BACKGROUND: In Canada, primary care physicians manage most musculoskeletal problems. However, their training in this area is limited, and some aspects of management may be suboptimal. This study was conducted to examine primary care physicians' management of 3 common musculoskeletal problems, ascertain the determinants of management and compare management with that recommended by a current practice panel. METHODS: A stratified computer-generated random sample of 798 Ontario members of the College of Family Physicians of Canada received a self-administered questionnaire by mail. Respondents selected various items in the management of 3 hypothetical patients: a 77-year-old woman with a shoulder problem, a 64-year-old man with osteoarthritis of the knee and a 30-year-old man with an acutely hot, swollen knee. Scores reflecting the proportion of recommended investigations, interventions and referrals selected for each scenario were calculated and examined for their association with physician and practice characteristics and physician attitudes. RESULTS: The response rate was 68.3% (529/775 eligible physicians). For the shoulder problem, all of the recommended items were chosen by the majority of respondents. However, of the items not recommended, ordering blood tests was selected by almost half (242 [45.7%]) as was prescribing an NSAID (236 [44.7%]). For the knee osteoarthritis the majority of respondents chose the recommended items except exercise (selected by only 175 [33.1%]). Of the items not recommended, tests were chosen by about half of the respondents and inappropriate referrals (chiefly for orthopedic surgery) were chosen by a quarter. For the acutely hot knee, the majority of physicians chose all of the recommended items except use of ice or heat (selected by only 188 [35.6%]). Although most (415 [78.5%]) of the respondents selected the recommended joint aspiration for this scenario, 84 (15.9%) omitted this investigation or referral to a specialist. The selection of recommended items was strongly associated with training in musculoskeletal specialties during medical school and residency. INTERPRETATION: Primary care physicians' management of 3 common musculoskeletal problems was for the most part in accord with panel recommendations. However, the unnecessary use of diagnostic tests, inappropriate prescribing of NSAIDs, low use of patient-centred options such as exercise, and lack of diagnostic suspicion of infectious arthritis are cause for concern. The results point to the need for increased exposure to musculoskeletal problems during undergraduate and residency training and in continuing medical education.
PMCID: PMC1229226  PMID: 9580733
7.  A Prospective Study of Return to Work Across Health Conditions: Perceived Work Attitude, Self-efficacy and Perceived Social Support 
Background The aim of the present study was to conduct subgroup-analyses in a prospective cohort of workers on long-term sickness absence to investigate whether associations between perceived work attitude, self-efficacy and perceived social support and time to RTW differ across different health conditions. Methods The study was based on a sample of 926 workers on sickness absence (6–12 weeks). The participants filled out a baseline questionnaire and were subsequently followed until the tenth month after listing sick. Perceived work attitude was measured with a Dutch language version of the Work Involvement Scale. Perceived social support was measured with a self-constructed standardized scale reflecting a person’s perception of social support regarding RTW. Self-efficacy was measured with the standardised Dutch version of the General self-efficacy scale, assessing the subjects’ expectations of their general capacities. The sample was divided into three subgroups: musculoskeletal health conditions, other physical health conditions and mental health conditions. Anova analyses and Cox proportional hazards regression analyses were used to identify differences in association between the three factors and the time to RTW between different subgroups. Results The associations between the perceived work attitude, self-efficacy and perceived social support and the time to RTW vary across different health condition subgroups, not only with regard to the strength of the association but also for the type of factor. In the multivariate model, hazard ratios (HRs) of 1.33 (95% CI 1.01–1.75) in the musculoskeletal subgroup, and 1.26 (95% CI 0.89–1.78) in the other physical subgroup were found in perceived work attitude. With regard to perceived social support HRs of 1.39 (95% CI 1.12–1.99) respectively 1.51 (1.05–2.17) in the same subgroups were found. Only self-efficacy remained in the multivariate model in all subgroups with HRs of 1.49 (95% CI 1.12–1.99) in the musculoskeletal subgroup, 1.53 (95% CI 1.07–2.18) in the other physical subgroup and 1.60 (1.07–2.40) in the mental subgroup. Conclusions The results of this study show that perceived work attitude, self-efficacy and perceived social support are relevant predictors with regard to the time to RTW in all types of health conditions, but that important differences are observed in type of factor and strengths of the relationships between physical and mental health conditions.
PMCID: PMC2832875  PMID: 19894106
Return-to-work; Long-term sickness; Absence; Work; Perceived work attitude; Self-efficacy; Perceived social support; Subgroup-analyses
8.  Reducing sick leave by minimal postal intervention: a randomised, controlled intervention study 
The lack of efficient medical interventions for combating increasing sickness absence rates has lead to the introduction of alternative measures initiated by the Norwegian National Insurance Service or at workplaces.
To determine whether minimal postal intervention had any effect on the length of sick leave.
Randomised, controlled trial with a one year follow up in Northern Norway in 1997 and 1998; 990 consecutive newly sick‐listed persons with musculoskeletal or mental disorders were studied. Within the intervention group, 495 eligible sick‐listed persons received a general information letter and a questionnaire as their sick leave passed 14 days. Possible intervention effects were analysed by survival analysis of the probability of returning to work within one year, and logistic regressions with benefits at one year as the dependent variable.
The overall reduction of 8.3 (95% CI −22.5 to 6.0) calendar days in mean length of sick leaves in the intervention group compared to controls, was not statistically significant. However, intervention significantly reduced length of sick leaves in subgroups with mental disorders, and with rheumatic disorders and arthritis, and overall for sick leaves lasting 12 weeks or more. Young people with low back pain showed an adverse effect to intervention. The overall relative risk of receiving benefits due to sickness after one year in the intervention group was 0.69 (95% CI 0.51 to 0.93) compared to controls.
The results should encourage employers, insurance institutions, and authorities to initiate challenges as questions on the length of sick leave and possible modified work measures, during the first few weeks of sick leave, for at least some groups of sick‐listed persons.
PMCID: PMC2078047  PMID: 16644897
musculoskeletal; randomised controlled trial; sickness absence; sick leave; sick‐listed persons
9.  Estimating the burden of musculoskeletal disorders in the community: the comparative prevalence of symptoms at different anatomical sites, and the relation to social deprivation 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  1998;57(11):649-655.
BACKGROUND—Epidemiologically-based rheumatology healthcare needs assessment requires an understanding of the incidence and prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders in the community, of the reasons why people consult in primary care, and of the proportion of people who would benefit from referral to secondary care and paramedical services. This paper reports the first phase of such a needs assessment exercise.
SPECIFIC OBJECTIVE—To estimate the relative frequency of musculoskeletal pain in different, and multiple, anatomical sites in the adult population.
SETTING—Three general practices in the former Tameside and Glossop Health Authority, Greater Manchester, UK, a predominantly urban area.
DESIGN—Population survey.
METHODS—An age and sex stratified sample of 6000 adults from the three practices was mailed a questionnaire that sought data on demographic factors, musculoskeletal symptoms (pain in the past month lasting for more than a week), and physical disability (using the modified Health Assessment Questionnaire- mHAQ). The areas of pain covered were neck, back, shoulder, elbow, hand, hip, knee, and multiple joints. The Carstairs index was used as a measure of social deprivation of the postcode sector in which the person lived.
RESULTS—The response rate after two reminders was 78.5%. Non-responders were more likely to live in areas of high social deprivation. People who lived in more deprived areas were also more likely to report musculoskeletal pain, especially backpain. After adjusting for social deprivation the rates of musculoskeletal pain did not differ between the practices and so their results were combined. After adjustment for social deprivation, the most common site of pain was back (23%; 95% CI 21, 25) followed by knee (19%; 95% CI 18, 21), and shoulder (16%; 95% CI 14, 17). The majority of subjects who reported pain had pain in more than one site. The prevalence of physical disability in the community rose with age. It was highest in those with multiple joint problems but was also high in those with isolated back or knee pain.
CONCLUSION—Musculoskeletal pain is common in the community. People who live in socially deprived areas have more musculoskeletal symptoms. Estimates of the overall burden of musculoskeletal pain that combine the results of site specific surveys will be too high, those that do not adjust for socioeconomic factors will be too low.

 Keywords: prevalence; pain; social deprivation
PMCID: PMC1752494  PMID: 9924205
10.  Work and Health, a Blind Spot in Curative Healthcare? A Pilot Study 
Introduction Most workers with musculoskeletal disorders on sick leave often consult with regular health care before entering a specific work rehabilitation program. However, it remains unclear to what extent regular healthcare contributes to the timely return to work (RTW). Moreover, several studies have indicated that it might postpone RTW. There is a need to establish the influence of regular healthcare on RTW as outcome; “Does visiting a regular healthcare provider influence the duration of sickness absence and recurrent sick leave due to musculoskeletal disorders?”. Methods A cohort of workers on sick leave for 2–6 weeks due to a-specific musculoskeletal disorders was followed for 12 months. The main outcomes for the present analysis were: duration of sickness absence till 100% return to work and recurrent sick leave after initial RTW. Cox regression analyses were conducted with visiting a general health practitioner, physical therapist, or medical specialist during the sick leave period as independent variables. Each regression model was adjusted for variables known to influence health care utilization like age, sex, diagnostic group, pain intensity, functional disability, general health perception, severity of complaints, job control, and physical load at work. Results Patients visiting a medical specialist reported higher pain intensity and more functional limitations and also had a worse health perception at start of the sick leave period compared with those not visiting a specialist. Visiting a medical specialist delayed return to work significantly (HR = 2.10; 95%CI 1.43–3.07). After approximately 8 weeks on sick leave workers visiting a physical therapist returned to work faster than other workers. A recurrent episode of sick leave during the follow up quick was initiated by higher pain intensity and more functional limitations at the moment of fully return to work. Visiting a primary healthcare provider during the sickness absence period did not influence the occurrence of a new sick leave period. Conclusion Despite the adjustment for severity of the musculoskeletal disorder, visiting a medical specialist was associated with a delayed full return to work. More attention to the factor ‘labor’ in the regular healthcare is warranted, especially for those patients experiencing substantial functional limitations due to musculoskeletal disorders.
PMCID: PMC3173611  PMID: 21080214
Return to work; Work disability; Health care services; Musculoskeletal disorders
11.  Sickness absence in musculoskeletal disorders - patients' experiences of interactions with the Social Insurance Agency and health care. A qualitative study 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:107.
Sickness absence has represented a growing public health problem in many Western countries over the last decade. In Sweden disorders of the musculoskeletal system cause approximately one third of all sick leave. The Social Insurance Agency (SIA) and the health care system are important actors in handling the sickness absence process. The objective was to study how patients with personal experience of sickness absence due to musculoskeletal disorders perceived their contact with these actors and what they considered as obstructing or facilitating factors for recovery and return to work in this situation.
In-depth interviews using open-ended questions were conducted with fifteen informants (aged 33-63, 11 women), all with experience of sickness absence due to musculoskeletal disorders and purposefully recruited to represent various backgrounds as regards diagnosis, length of sick leave and return to work. The interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed using content analysis.
The informants' perceived the interaction with the SIA and health care as ranging from coherent to fragmented. Being on sick leave was described as going through a process of adjustment in both private and working life. This process of adjustment was interactive and included not only the possibilities to adjust work demands and living conditions but also personal and emotional adjustment. The informants' experiences of fragmented interaction reflected a sense that their entire situation was not being taken into account. Coherent interaction was described as facilitating recovery and return to work, while fragmented interaction was described as obstructing this. The complex division of responsibilities within the Swedish rehabilitation system may hamper sickness absentees' possibilities of taking responsibility for their own rehabilitation.
This study shows that people on sick leave considered the interaction with the SIA and health care as an important part of the rehabilitation process. The contact with these actors was perceived as affecting recovery and return to work. Working for a more coherent process of rehabilitation and offering professional guidance to patients on sick leave might have an empowering effect.
PMCID: PMC3050746  PMID: 21324175
12.  Psychological and physical correlates of musculoskeletal symptoms in male professional divers and offshore workers 
Underwater divers are more likely to complain of musculoskeletal symptoms than a control population. Accordingly, we conducted a study to determine whether musculoskeletal symptoms reflected observable physical disorder, to ascertain the relationship between symptoms and measures of mood, memory and executive function and to assess any need for future screening.
A 10% random sample of responders to a prior postal health questionnaire was examined (151 divers, 120 non-diving offshore workers). Participants underwent physical examination and a neuropsychological test battery for memory and executive function. Participants also completed the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale for anxiety (HADSa) and depression (HADSd), and questionnaires for physical health-related quality of life (SF36 PCS), mental health-related quality of life (SF36 MCS), memory (Cognitive Failures Questionnaire (CFQ), Prospective and Retrospective Memory Questionnaire (PRMQ)), executive function (dysexecutive syndrome questionnaire (DEX)), musculoskeletal symptoms (MSS) and general unrelated symptom reporting.
Of participants with moderate/severe musculoskeletal symptoms, 52% had physical signs, and of participants with no symptoms, 73% had no physical signs. There was no difference in the prevalence of signs or symptoms between groups. Musculoskeletal symptoms were associated with lower SF36 PCS for both groups. In divers, musculoskeletal symptoms were associated with higher general unrelated symptom reporting and poorer scoring for HADSa, PRMQ, CFQ and DEX with scores remaining within the normative range. A positive physical examination was associated with general unrelated symptom reporting in divers. There were no differences in neuropsychological test scores attributable to either group or musculoskeletal symptoms.
Musculoskeletal symptoms were associated with physical signs, but this was not a strong effect. Reporting of musculoskeletal symptoms by the divers studied was also associated with a tendency to report symptoms generally or somatisation, and caution should be exercised regarding their interpretation as an indication of physical disease or their use for health screening.
PMCID: PMC3710191  PMID: 23849557
Diving; Symptoms; Musculoskeletal system; Neuropsychological tests
13.  Early coordinated multidisciplinary intervention to prevent sickness absence and labour market exclusion in patients with low back pain: study protocol of a randomized controlled trial 
Musculoskeletal disorders account for one third of the long-term absenteeism in Denmark and the number of individuals sick listed for more than four weeks is increasing. Compared to other diagnoses, patients with musculoskeletal diseases, including low back pain, are less likely to return to work after a period of sick leave. It seems that a multidisciplinary intervention, including cooperation between the health sector, the social sector and in the work place, has a positive effect on days off work due to musculoskeletal disorders and particularly low back pain. It is a challenge to coordinate this type of intervention, and the implementation of a return-to-work (RTW)-coordinator is suggested as an effective strategy in this process. The purpose of this paper is to describe the study protocol and present a new type of intervention, where the physiotherapist both has the role as RTW-coordinator and treating the patient.
A randomized controlled trial (RCT) is currently on-going. The RCT includes 770 patients with low back pain of minimum four weeks who are referred to an outpatient back centre. The study population consists of patients, who are sick-listed or at risk of sick-leave due to LBP. The control group is treated with usual care in a team of a physiotherapist, a chiropractor, a rheumatologist and a social worker employed at the centre. The Intervention group is treated with usual care and in addition intervention of a psychologist, an occupational physician, an ergonomist, a case manager from the municipal sickness benefit office, who has the authority in the actual case concerning sickness benefit payment and contact to the patients employer/work place. The treating physiotherapist is the RTW-coordinator. Outcome will be reported at the end of treatment as well as 6 and 12 months follow up. The primary outcome is number of days off work. Secondary outcomes are disability, pain, and quality of life. The study will follow the recommendations in CONSORT-statement in designing and reporting RCTs.
This large RCT is testing the effectiveness of a preventive intervention targeting patients on short term sick leave or at risk being sick listed because of low back pain. We have developed a novel multidisciplinary team structure using the treating physiotherapist as the return to work coordinator, and having the case manager from the municipal sickness benefit office participating in team meetings. The study has the potential to contribute to the knowledge about how to target the challenges in the treatment of LBP. The aim is to prevent sickness absence and labour market exclusion - both on the individual level and economic costs at community level. Short term results will be available in 2014.
This study is approved by the Danish Regional Ethics Committee ( H-C-2008-112) and is registered at.
Trial registration NCT01690234
PMCID: PMC3606127  PMID: 23496897
Low back pain (LBP); Return to work (RTW); Sickness absence; Rehabilitation; Prevention; Multidisciplinary intervention; Coordination; Denmark
14.  Musculoskeletal disorders in shipyard industry: prevalence, health care use, and absenteeism 
It is unclear whether the well-known risk factors for the occurrence of musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) also play an important role in the determining consequences of MSD in terms of sickness absence and health care use.
A cross-sectional study was conducted among 853 shipyard employees. Data were collected by questionnaire on physical and psychosocial workload, need for recovery, perceived general health, occurrence of musculoskeletal complaints, and health care use during the past year. Retrospective data on absenteeism were also available from the company register.
In total, 37%, 22%, and 15% of employees reported complaints of low back, shoulder/neck, and hand/wrist during the past 12 months, respectively. Among all employees with at least one MSD, 27% visited a physician at least once and 20% took at least one period of sick leave. Various individual and work-related factors were associated with the occurrence of MSD. Health care use and absenteeism were strongest influenced by chronicity of musculoskeletal complaints and comorbidity with other musculoskeletal complaints and, to a lesser extent, by work-related factors.
In programmes aimed at preventing the unfavourable consequences of MSD in terms of sickness absence and health care use it is important to identify the (individual) factors that determine the development of chronicity of complaints. These factors may differ from the well-know risk factors for the occurrence of MSD that are targeted in primary prevention.
PMCID: PMC1676002  PMID: 17125504
15.  Musculoskeletal health and work ability in physically demanding occupations: study protocol for a prospective field study on construction and health care workers 
BMC Public Health  2014;14(1):1075.
Musculoskeletal disorders have a profound impact on individual health, sickness absence and early retirement, particularly in physically demanding occupations. Demographics are changing in the developed countries, towards increasing proportions of senior workers. These senior workers may have particular difficulties coping with physically demanding occupations while maintaining good health.
Previous studies investigating the relationship between physical work demands and musculoskeletal disorders are mainly based on self-reported exposures and lack a prospective design. The aim of this paper is to describe the background and methods and discuss challenges for a field study examining physical demands in construction and health care work and their prospective associations with musculoskeletal disorders, work ability and sickness absence.
Methods and design
This protocol describes a prospective cohort study on 1200 construction and health care workers. Participants will answer a baseline questionnaire concerning musculoskeletal complaints, general health, psychosocial and organizational factors at work, work demands, work ability and physical activity during leisure. A shorter questionnaire will be answered every 6th months for a total of two years, together with continuous sickness absence monitoring during this period. Analysis will prospectively consider associations between self-reported physical demands and musculoskeletal disorders, work ability and sickness absence. To obtain objective data on physical exposures, technical measurements will be collected from two subgroups of N = 300 (Group A) and N = 160 (Group B) during work and leisure. Both group A and B will be given a physical health examination, be tested for physical capacity and physical activity will be measured for four days. Additionally, muscle activity, ground reaction force, body positions and physical activity will be examined during one workday for Group B. Analysis of associations between objectively measured exposure data and the outcomes described above will be done separately for these subpopulations.
The field study will at baseline produce objectively measured data on physical demands in the construction and health care occupations. In combination with clinical measurements and questionnaire data during follow-up, this will provide a solid foundation to prospectively investigate relationships between physical demands at work and development of musculoskeletal disorders, work ability and sickness absence.
PMCID: PMC4203897  PMID: 25318646
Physical exposures; Work ability; Musculoskeletal disorders; Accelerometer; Heart rate monitoring; Electromyography; Ground reaction force
16.  Musculoskeletal disorder risk factors among nursing professionals in low resource settings: a cross-sectional study in Uganda 
BMC Nursing  2014;13:7.
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) constitute one of the main occupational hazards among health care workers. However, few epidemiological studies on work related MSD among nursing professionals have been carried out in Africa. The purpose of this study was to assess the work related musculoskeletal disorders and associated risk factors among nursing professionals in Uganda.
This was a cross-sectional study of MSD among 880 nursing professionals from five selected hospitals in Uganda. Data was collected using a questionnaire adapted from the Dutch Musculoskeletal and Nordic Musculoskeletal questionnaires. Descriptive (mean, standard deviation and percentages) and inferential (Chi square test and logistic regression analysis) statistics were used to analyse data. Alpha level was set at p < 0.05.
A total of 741 completed questionnaires were analysed (response rate 85.4%). The average age of the respondents was 35.4 (SD 10.7) years and a majority were female (85.7%). The average working hours per week was 43.7 (SD 18.9 hours). The 12-month period-prevalence of MSD at anybody site was 80.8%. The most common site of MSD was the lower back (61.9%). Significant risk factors for reported MSD included often working in a slightly bent posture (adjOR 2.25, 95% CI 1.20-4.26), often working in a slightly twisted posture for long (adjOR 1.97, 95% CI 1.03-3.77), mental exhaustion (adjOR 2.05, 95% CI 1.17-3.5), being absent from the work station for more than 6 months due to illness or an accident (adjO|R, 4.35, 95% CI 1.44-13.08) and feeling rested after a break (adjOR 2.09, 95% CI 1.16-3.76).
Musculoskeletal disorders affect more than 80% of nursing professionals in Uganda with the most commonly, affected site being the lower back. Significant risk factors for MSD include; being absent from the work station for more than 6 months due to illness or an accident, working in awkward postures, pushing/pulling of heavy loads and mental exhaustion. There is a need for greater advocacy, better working conditions and adoption of strategies to reduce occupational injuries.
PMCID: PMC3940025  PMID: 24565421
Musculoskeletal disorders; Risk factors; Uganda
17.  Sickness absence and self-reported health a population-based study of 43,600 individuals in central Sweden 
BMC Public Health  2008;8:426.
Sickness absence is very high in Sweden. The reasons for this phenomenon are not well known. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between degree of self-reported sickness absence and health. The hypothesis was that individuals with long-term sickness absence would report more symptoms and lower self-rated health. Another hypothesis was that women are more likely to self-rate psychiatric diagnoses compared to men, who are more likely to self-rate musculoskeletal diagnoses.
The data was obtained with a postal survey questionnaire answered by 43,589 individuals, a Swedish random population sample of men and women aged 18–84 years. The response rate was 65%. This study included 19,826 individuals aged 18–64 years old and still at work. They were divided into four groups, based on the number of reported days of sickness absence during the past year.
Approximately 40% of the individuals at work mentioned that they had been absent due to illness sometime during the past year. Of those who had been absent 90 days or more, two thirds were women. There was a significant difference between the groups in self-rated health (p < 0.05). Every fifth woman (19.4%) and every fourth man (25.9%) in the group with a sickness absence of more than 89 days rated their health as poor or very poor, but a large proportion, 43.5% of the women and 31.6% of the men, rated their health as good. Long-term illnesses and complaints differed between the groups. The correlations between the groups and illness were mostly significant (p < 0.01). Two thirds of the subjects had both psychiatric and musculoskeletal symptoms. There was a significant difference among them, as men more often had musculoskeletal diagnoses. One third had only psychiatric or musculoskeletal symptoms and in those groups there were no significant diagnosis differences between the sexes.
Individuals with long-term sickness absence reported more symptoms and lower self-rated health than did those who had not been absent at all, and than those who had been ill 1–28 days. Men and women sick-listed 29 days or more generally reported more illness and complaints. No sex differences among psychiatric and musculoskeletal diagnoses were found, but when reported both psychiatric and musculoskeletal symptoms the musculoskeletal diagnoses were significant among men.
PMCID: PMC2627845  PMID: 19116000
18.  Musculoskeletal complaints among Italian X-ray technology students: a cross-sectional questionnaire survey 
BMC Research Notes  2010;3:114.
There is a high prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders among healthcare professional students. Although recent studies show musculoskeletal disorders are a common problem among X-ray technologists, there are no data on these disorders among students of this healthcare profession. We have therefore estimated the prevalence of musculoskeletal complaints among a group of X-ray technology students.
The students (n = 109) currently attending the 3-year X-ray technologist school at a large University in the Apulia region of Southern Italy were recruited for the study, with a 100% participation rate. A questionnaire collected data concerning personal characteristics, physical exposure during training activities, and the presence of musculoskeletal symptoms in the neck, shoulders, low back, hand/wrist and legs.
The prevalence of complaints in any body site over the previous 12 months was 37%. Low back pain was the most frequently reported symptom (27%), followed by neck (16%), shoulder (11%), leg (8%) and hand/wrist (5%) pain. Poor physical activity was associated with the complaints.
Our study showed prevalence rates of musculoskeletal complaints among X-ray technology students to be somewhat high, representing about half of those found in Italian technologists. The most common musculoskeletal problem was low back pain, which had also been found in research conducted among nursing students. Our research also showed a significant association between poor physical activity and the presence of musculoskeletal disorders in young university students.
PMCID: PMC2868854  PMID: 20416101
19.  Discussing prognosis with older people with musculoskeletal pain: a cross-sectional study in general practice 
BMC Family Practice  2009;10:50.
Prognosis has been described as an important but neglected branch of clinical science. While patients' views have been sought in the context of life-threatening illness, similar research is lacking for patients presenting with common, non-life-threatening musculoskeletal complaints. The aim of this study was to gauge whether and why older patients with musculoskeletal pain think prognostic information is important, and how often they felt prognosis was discussed in the general practice consultation.
A cross-sectional survey of consecutive patients aged 50 years of over presenting with non-inflammatory musculoskeletal pain to 5 Central Cheshire general practices. The frequency of responses to the prognostic questions were described and the association with sociodemographic, presenting pain complaint, and psychosocial variables explored using logistic regression.
502 participants (77%) responded to the postal questionnaire. 165 (33%) participants reported discussing prognosis in the consultation with their GP. Discussions about prognosis were more often reported by male patients (OR 1.72, 95% CI 1.09, 2.71) and those for whom this was their first consultation (OR 1.81, 95% CI 1.16, 2.80). 402 (82%) participants thought that prognostic information was important. This was highest among those currently in paid employment (OR 2.95, 95% CI 1.33, 6.57). The reasons patients gave for believing prognostic information was important included 'knowing for the sake of knowing' and planning future activity. Reasons for not believing prognostic information to be important included the belief that progression of pain was inevitable and that nothing could be done to help.
Prognostic information is thought to be important amongst older people with musculoskeletal pain yet discussions occur infrequently in primary care. Barriers to effective prognostic communication and the exact information needs of patients are still unknown and warrant further research.
PMCID: PMC2719596  PMID: 19583860
20.  Efficacy of ‘Tailored Physical Activity’ or ‘Chronic Pain Self-Management Program’ on return to work for sick-listed citizens: design of a randomised controlled trial 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:66.
Pain affects quality of life and can result in absence from work. Treatment and/or prevention strategies for musculoskeletal pain-related long-term sick leave are currently undertaken in several health sectors. Moreover, there are few evidence-based guidelines for such treatment and prevention. The aim of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of ‘Tailored Physical Activity’ or ‘Chronic Pain Self-Management Program’ for sick-listed citizens with pain in the back and/or the upper body.
This protocol describes the design of a parallel randomised controlled trial on the efficacy of ‘Tailored Physical Activity’ or a ‘Chronic Pain Self-management Program’ versus a reference group for sick-listed citizens with complaints of pain in the back or upper body. Participants will have been absent from work due to sick-listing for 3 to 9 weeks at the time of recruitment. All interventions will be performed at the ‘Health Care Center’ in the Sonderborg Municipality, and a minimum of 138 participants will be randomised into one of the three groups.
All participants will receive ‘Health Guidance’, a (1.5-hour) individualised dialogue focusing on improving ways of living, based on assessments of risk behavior, motivation for change, level of self-care and personal resources. In addition, the experimental groups will receive either ‘Tailored Physical Activity’ (three 50-minute sessions/week over 10 weeks) or ‘Chronic Pain Self-Management Program’ (2.5-hours per week over 6 weeks). The reference group will receive only ‘Health Guidance’.
The primary outcome is the participants’ sick-listed status at 3 and 12 months after baseline. The co-primary outcome is the time it takes to return to work. In addition, secondary outcomes include anthropometric measurements, functional capacity and self-reported number of sick days, musculoskeletal symptoms, general health, work ability, physical capacity, kinesiophobia, physical functional status, interpersonal problems and mental disorders.
There are few evidence-based interventions for rehabilitation programmes assisting people with musculoskeletal pain-related work absence. This study will compare outcomes of interventions on return to work in order to increase the knowledge of evidence-based rehabilitation of sick-listed citizens to prevent long-term sick-leave and facilitate return to work.
Trial registration
The trial is registered in the, number NCT01356784.
PMCID: PMC3558350  PMID: 23343386
‘Tailored Physical Activity’; ‘Chronic Pain Self-Management Program’; ‘Return to work’; ‘Musculoskeletal disorders’; Pain
21.  Physical activity is associated with a low prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders in the Royal Norwegian Navy: a cross sectional study 
Despite considerable knowledge about musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) and physical, psychosocial and individual risk factors there is limited knowledge about physical activity as a factor in preventing MSD. In addition, studies of physical activity are often limited to either leisure activity or physical activity at work. Studies among military personnel on the association between physical activity at work and at leisure and MSD are lacking. This study was conducted to find the prevalence of MSD among personnel in the Royal Norwegian Navy and to assess the association between physical activity at work and at leisure and MSD.
A questionnaire about musculoskeletal disorders, physical activity and background data (employment status, age, gender, body mass index, smoking, education and physical stressors) was completed by 2265 workers (58%) 18 to 70 years old in the Royal Norwegian Navy. Multiple logistic regression with 95% confidence intervals was used to assess the relationship between physical activity and musculoskeletal disorders.
A total of 32% of the workers reported musculoskeletal disorders often or very often in one or more parts of the body in the past year. The most common musculoskeletal disorders were in the lower back (15% often or very often), shoulders (12% often or very often) and neck (11% often or very often). After adjustment for confounders, physical activity was inversely associated with musculoskeletal disorders for all body sites except elbows, knees and feet.
The one-year prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders among workers in the Royal Norwegian Navy was rather low. A physically active lifestyle both at work and at leisure was associated with fewer musculoskeletal disorders among personnel in the Royal Norwegian Navy. Prospective studies are necessary to confirm the cause and effect in this association.
PMCID: PMC1929072  PMID: 17601352
22.  Mental health literacy and attitudes in a Swedish community sample – Investigating the role of personal experience of mental health care 
BMC Public Health  2008;8:8.
Mental ill health is a common condition in the general population, yet only about half of those with a mental disorder have treatment contact. Personal experience may affect attitudes, which in turn influence the help-seeking process. This study investigated differences in mental health literacy and attitudes among mentally healthy persons and in persons with symptoms of mental illness with and without treatment contact.
A postal screening questionnaire was sent to a random sample of the general population aged 20–64 in the county of Skaraborg, Sweden in order to ascertain mental health status and history of treatment contact; 3538 responded (49%). Face-to-face interviews were carried out in random sub samples of mentally healthy persons (n = 128) and in mentally ill persons with (n = 125) and without (n = 105) mental health care contact. Mental health literacy and attitudes to treatment were assessed using questions based on a vignette depicting a person with depression. Past month mental disorder was diagnosed according to the Schedule for Clinical Assessment in Neuropsychiatry (SCAN).
Two thirds failed to recognize depression in a vignette; recognition was equally poor in mentally healthy persons and in persons with symptoms of mental illness with and without treatment contact. In response to an open-ended question concerning appropriate interventions, one third suggested counselling and only one percent proposed antidepressant treatment. Again, proportions were similar in all groups. Persons with a history of mental health contact more often suggested that a GP would provide the best form of help. When presented with a list of possible interventions, those with a history of mental health contact were more positive to medical interventions such as antidepressants, hypnotics, and inpatient psychiatric treatment. When asked about the prognosis for the condition described in the vignette, persons with treatment contact were less likely to believe in full recovery without intervention; mentally ill without treatment contact were more optimistic.
Mental health literacy, specially concerning attitudes towards interventions is associated with personal history of mental health care.
PMCID: PMC2254613  PMID: 18184424
23.  Prevalence and consequences of musculoskeletal symptoms in symphony orchestra musicians vary by gender: a cross-sectional study 
Musculoskeletal symptoms are common in the neck, back, and upper limbs amongst musicians. Playing-related musculoskeletal disorders have been found to range from 32% to 87% with a tendency for female musicians to have more problems than males. Studies of musculoskeletal problems in instrumentalists have generally involved pre-professional musicians or populations comprising musicians of different levels. The objective of this study was therefore to investigate the prevalence, duration and consequences of musculoskeletal symptoms in professional symphony orchestra musicians.
A cross-sectional questionnaire study. The study population comprised of 441 musicians from six Danish symphony orchestras; 342 (78%) completed the questionnaire.
During the last year 97% of the women and 83% of the men experienced symptoms in at least one of nine anatomic regions (neck, upper and lower back, shoulders, elbows, and hands and wrists). 86% of the women and 67% of the men experienced symptoms for more than seven days, while 63% of the women and 49% of the men had symptoms for more than 30 days. Woodwind players had a lower risk for musculoskeletal symptoms and a lower risk for the consequences. Among consequences were changed way of playing, reported by 73% of the musicians, difficulty in daily activities at home, reported by 55%, and difficulty in sleeping, reported by 49%. Their health behaviour included taking paracetamol as the most used analgesic, while physiotherapists and general practitioners were reported as the most consulted health care professionals concerning musculoskeletal problems.
Results regarding symptoms in six anatomic regions were compared to results for a sample of the general Danish workforce. Symptoms were more frequent in musicians and lasted longer than in the general workforce. This applied to both genders.
Within the last year most symphony orchestra musicians experienced musculoskeletal symptoms in the neck, back or upper extremities. The symptoms impacted on their level of function in and outside work and were reflected in their health behaviour. Generally women had a higher risk than men and woodwind players a lower risk than other instrumentalists. Finally, symptoms were more frequent and lasted longer in the musicians than in the general workforce.
PMCID: PMC3221643  PMID: 21978278
24.  Assessing the effects of an educational program for the prevention of work-related musculoskeletal disorders among school teachers 
BMC Public Health  2014;14(1):1211.
Musculoskeletal disorders represent one of the most common and most costly occupational health problems in both developed and developing countries. The aim of this study was to assess the effect of occupational health education and ergonomic training on awareness, attitude and behavior of work-related musculoskeletal disorders among teachers.
A self-controlled longitudinal study with pre/post design was used to evaluate the effects of intervention among school teachers from the 21st of June, 2010 to the 21st of August, 2011. Choosing a cluster random sampling method, 350 (70.0% response rate (350/500)) teachers from four schools were assigned to receive eight weeks of intervention (participatory ergonomic training and occupational health education). Evaluations focused on teachers who participated in both pre- and post-questionnaires. Two post-tests were then administered to the participants to identify changes at six and 12 months after intervention.
The follow-up rate was 93.7% (328/350) at six months after intervention, and 90.9% (319/350) at 12 months after intervention. After the intervention, the awareness rate, attitude and health behavior improved. The self-reported prevalence of work-related musculoskeletal disorders for neck, shoulder, upper and lower back pain, or discomfort were lower than before intervention (P < 0.05).
Interventions based on occupational health education lectures, on-site ergonomics training, publicity brochures and posters showed a positive effect on prevention and control of the occurrence of work-related musculoskeletal disorders in teachers. Improvement in awareness, behavior and attitude changes, and prevalence were found at both six and 12 months post-intervention, confirming that the effectiveness of the program can be sustained.
PMCID: PMC4256741  PMID: 25422067
Teachers; Work-related Musculoskeletal Disorders; Intervention
25.  Organisational downsizing and musculoskeletal problems in employees: a prospective study 
OBJECTIVES—To study the association between organisational downsizing and subsequent musculoskeletal problems in employees and to determine the association with changes in psychosocial and behavioural risk factors.
METHODS—Participants were 764 municipal employees working in Raisio, Finland before and after an organisational downsizing carried out between 1991 and 1993. The outcome measures were self reports of severity and sites of musculoskeletal pain at the end of 1993 and medically certified musculoskeletal sickness absence for 1993-5. The contribution of changes in psychosocial work characteristics and health related behaviour between the 1990 and 1993 surveys was assessed by adjustment.
RESULTS—After adjustment for age, sex, and income, the odds ratio (OR) for severe musculoskeletal pain between major and minor downsizing and the corresponding rate ratios for musculoskeletal sickness absence were 2.59 (95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.5 to 4.5) and 5.50 (3.6 to 7.6), respectively. Differences between the mean number of sites of pain after major and minor downsizing was 0.99 (0.4 to 1.6). The largest contribution from changes in work characteristics and health related behaviour to the association between downsizing and musculoskeletal problems was from increases in physical demands, particularly in women and low income employees. Additional contributory factors were reduction of skill discretion (relative to musculoskeletal pain) and job insecurity. The results were little different when analyses were confined to initially healthy participants.
CONCLUSIONS—Downsizing is a risk factor for musculoskeletal problems among those who remain in employment. Much of this risk is attributable to increased physical demands, but adverse changes in other psychosocial factors may also play a part.

Keywords: ocupational health; musculoskeletal disorders; downsizing
PMCID: PMC1740075  PMID: 11706148

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