High quantitative job demands and low coworker support as risk factors for neck pain: results of a prospective cohort study

G A Ariëns, P M Bongers, W E Hoogendoorn, I L Houtman, G van der Wal, W van Mechelen

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STUDY DESIGN: A 3-year prospective cohort study among 1334 workers was conducted.

OBJECTIVE: To determine whether the work-related psychosocial factors of quantitative job demands, conflicting job demands, skill discretion, decision authority, supervisor support, coworker support, and job security are risk factors for neck pain.

SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA: Among the various risk factors for neck pain, work-related psychosocial factors play a major role. Previous studies on risk factors for neck pain often had a cross-sectional design, and did not take both physical and psychosocial factors into account.

METHODS: At baseline, data on work-related psychosocial factors were collected by means of a questionnaire. During the 3-year follow-up period, data on the occurrence of neck pain were collected by means of postal questionnaires. Individuals without neck pain at baseline were selected for the analyses. Cox regression analysis was applied to examine the relation between the work-related psychosocial factors and the cumulative incidence of neck pain. Adjustments were made for various physical factors and individual characteristics.

RESULTS: The analysis included 977 patients. Altogether, 141 workers (14.4%) reported that they had experienced neck pain at least once during the 3-year follow-up period. The relation of neck pain to high quantitative job demands (relative risk [RR], 2.14; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.28-3.58) and low coworker support (RR, 2.43; 95% CI, 1.11-5.29) was statistically significant. An increased risk was found for low decision authority in relation to neck pain (RR, 1.60; 95% CI, 0.74-3.45), but this relation was not statistically significant.

CONCLUSIONS: High quantitative job demands and low coworker support are independent risk factors for neck pain. There are indications that another risk factor for neck pain is low decision authority.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1896-901; discussion 1902-3
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2001


  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Neck Pain/epidemiology
  • Netherlands/epidemiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Support
  • Workload/psychology
  • Workplace/psychology

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