Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 2014;40(6):597-609    pdf full text

doi:10.5271/sjweh.3437

A longitudinal study on risk factors for neck and shoulder pain among young adults in the transition from technical school to working life

by Hanvold TN, Wærsted M, Mengshoel AM, Bjertness E, Twisk J, Veiersted KB

Objectives The study examined the course of neck and shoulder pain among a cohort of technical school students entering working life. We also aimed to identify work-related and individual risk factors for neck and shoulder pain during this transition period.

Methods The study was designed as a prospective cohort study following 420 technical school students (167 student hairdressers, 118 student electricians, and 135 media/design students) from school, through their apprenticeship and into working life. Every 4th month over a 6.5 year period (2002–2009), the participant`s neck and shoulder pain for the preceding four weeks was assessed. Mechanical and psychosocial workplace factors as well as individual factors were evaluated at baseline and/or during the follow-up period. Data were analyzed by generalized estimating equations (GEE).

Results We found a significant increase in neck and shoulder pain over time in the transition from technical school to working life. High mechanical workload was associated with neck and shoulder pain among women, while a high level of shoulder muscle endurance capacity was associated with lower rates of neck and shoulder pain among men. Perceived muscle tension and ethnicity were the most consistent predictors for neck and shoulder pain, found among both women and men.

Conclusion Increased neck and shoulder pain was found in the transition from technical school to working life, and both work-related and individual factors were associated with pain development.

This article refers to the following texts of the Journal: 2001;27(1):41-48  2003;29(2):124-133  2005;31(5):375-386  2006;32(3):190-197