The interactions between pain, pain-related fear of movement and productivity

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Abstract

Background

Employees with physically heavy work have an increased risk of musculoskeletal disorders leading to reduced work ability.

Aims

To investigate if a high level of musculoskeletal pain or pain-related fear of movement was associated with low productivity among employees with physically heavy work and differing work ability levels.

Methods

The study was conducted at a Danish production site and employees with physically heavy work in the production line were included in the study. Work ability was assessed with the Work Ability Index (WAI), pain-related fear of movement with the Tampa Scale for Kinesiophobia and productivity and musculoskeletal pain by self-reported measures. Sickness absence records for construction of WAI were obtained from the workplace.

Results

There was a 77% response rate with 350 employees included in the final analysis. Among employees with only moderate work ability, there was neither an association between pain and productivity nor between pain-related fear of movement and productivity. For employees with good work ability, higher levels of pain and higher levels of pain-related fear of movement both raised the odds of low productivity significantly.

Conclusions

Despite the fact that musculoskeletal pain increases the risk of reduced work ability significantly, musculoskeletal pain and pain-related fear of movement were associated with low productivity only among employees with good work ability.

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