From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

The Psychosocial/MSD Link

Karolinska Institute, Sweden.  A study of nearly 3500 Swedish postal workers determined that that certain physical, psychosocial, and organizational factors were important determinants of incidence of sickness, independent of each other. The research also suggests that high job demands in combination with low control were associated with coronary heart disease and musculoskeletal disorders. Other factors associated with a high absence rate included seldom or never being able to discuss with the supervisor and working through illness, and workplace “bullying.”

National Academies of Science, United States. A 2001 report stated that a rapid work pace, monotonous work, low job satisfaction, little decision-making power, and high levels of job stress are associated with back disorders. Psychosocial factors were found to affect not only how workers view themselves in relation to the workplace, but also the physical, organizational, and social aspects of their jobs.

Canadian 1994 National Population Health Survey (NPHS). A study of over 8,200 workers related back problems to physical as well as psychosocial issues in the workplace. The study found that low social support at work and high job insecurity were independent predictors of restricted activity due to MSDs.

University of Manchester, England.  A two year survey of over 800 newly-employed workers in 12 diverse occupations found that in addition to mechanical factors, psychosocial factors, particularly monotonous work, were moderately associated with the onset of new shoulder pain.

This article originally appeared in The Ergonomics Report™ on 2004-08-12.