Risk factors for musculoskeletal symptoms of the neck or shoulder alone or neck and shoulder among hospital nurses

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To investigate the relationship between sociodemographic, individual and work place factors, and neck pain alone, shoulder pain alone, and neck and shoulder pain among nurses working across three public hospitals in Melbourne, Australia.


Information on participant demographics, somatisation tendency, health beliefs, mental and physical health status, workplace physical and psychosocial factors, and musculoskeletal symptoms and pain at several body sites was collected.


1111 participants (response rate 38.6%) were included in the study: 17.2% reported neck pain alone, 11.6% shoulder pain alone and 15.8% both neck and shoulder pain in the past month. Self-reported neck and shoulder pain were independently associated with poorer mental (OR 0.96, 95% CI 0.94 to 0.98) and physical (0.92, 0.90 to 0.95) health and well-being, somatisation (1.77, 1.03 to 3.04) and negative work-causation beliefs (2.51, 1.57 to 3.99). Neck pain alone was more consistently associated with sociodemographic factors, mental (0.97, 0.96 to 0.99) and physical (0.97, 0.94 to 0.99) health and well-being, and shoulder pain alone was associated with physical health and well-being (0.95, 0.92 to 0.98) and fear-avoidance beliefs (0.45, 0.24 to 0.86).


Risk factors for self-reported pain between regions of the neck and shoulder alone, and neck and shoulder differed. While neck and shoulder pain was consistently associated with several risk factors, neck and shoulder pain in isolation were both associated with physical health and well-being and individually associated with sociodemographic and health beliefs, respectively. These findings suggest that different factors may be associated with a single pain region versus pain in two regions.

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