Risk factors of chronic neck pain: A prospective study among middle-aged employees

Sanna-Mari Kääriä, Mikko Laaksonen, Ossi Rahkonen, Eero Lahelma, P. Leino-Arjas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


OBJECTIVE: To study the associations of sociodemographic factors, working conditions, lifestyle and previous pain in the spine with new onset chronic neck pain (NP).

METHODS: The participants were municipal employees free of chronic NP at baseline, aged 40, 45, 50, 55 or 60 years (n = 5277, 80% women). Self-reported data on occupational class, working conditions, body mass index, smoking, exercise, mental well-being, sleep problems, NP and low back pain (LBP) were obtained from baseline questionnaire surveys in 2000-2002. The question on chronic NP was repeated in a follow-up in 2007. Logistic regression analysis was used.

RESULTS: The incidence of chronic NP was 15% in women and 9% in men. In multivariable analysis among women, acute NP [odds ratio (OR) 3.8, 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.9-5.1], chronic LBP (1.6, 1.2-2.2), reporting current workplace bullying (OR 1.6, 95% CI 1.1-2.4), earlier bullying at the present workplace (1.6, 1.2-2.0), and earlier bullying in another workplace (1.8, 1.3-2.4), frequent sleep problems (1.5, 1.2-2.0), overweight (1.2, 1.0-1.5), and obesity (1.4, 1.1-1.8) predicted chronic NP at follow-up. Men with acute NP (2.3, 1.4-3.8), chronic LBP (2.3, 1.2-4.3), manual occupational class (1.8, 1.1-3.1) and high work-related emotional exhaustion (1.9, 1.1-3.3) at baseline had an increased risk of new onset chronic NP.

CONCLUSIONS: We found potentially modifiable predictors of chronic NP among employees: workplace bullying, sleep problems, and high body mass index in women, and work-related emotional exhaustion in men. In both genders, previous acute NP and chronic LBP were predictive of chronic NP.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Pain
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)911-920
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2012
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 3142 Public health care science, environmental and occupational health

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