Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 2004;30(1):56-63    pdf

doi:10.5271/sjweh.765

Different risk factors for musculoskeletal complaints and musculoskeletal sickness absence

by IJzelenberg W, Molenaar D, Burdorf A

Objectives The aim of this study was to investigate whether individual, work-related physical and psychosocial risk factors involved in the occurrence of musculoskeletal complaints also determine musculoskeletal sickness absence.

Methods This cross-sectional study used a self-administered questionnaire to collect data on individual and work-related risk factors and the occurrence of musculoskeletal complaints and musculoskeletal sickness absence among 373 employees of laundry-works and dry-cleaning establishments (response rate 87%). Logistic regression models were used to determine associations between risk factors and the occurrence of musculoskeletal complaints and sickness absence due to these complaints.

Results Both work-related physical and psychosocial factors showed strong associations with low-back pain and upper-extremity complaints. Work-related physical factors did not influence sickness absence, whereas psychosocial factors showed some associations with sickness absence. Sickness absence was associated with The Netherlands as the country of birth [odds ratio (OR) 0.3, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 0.2-0.6], and female workers had an episode of sickness absence due to low-back pain less often (OR 0.5, 95% CI 0.3-0.9), but more often due to upper-extremity complaints (OR 2.2, 95% CI 1.1-4.5).

Conclusions Work-related physical and psychosocial factors largely determine the occurrence of low-back pain and upper-extremity complaints, whereas individual factors predominantly determine whether persons with these musculoskeletal complaints take sick leave.

This article refers to the following texts of the Journal: 1997;23(4):243-256  2001;27(4):258-267  2002;28(4):222-231  1997;23(5):370-377