Neck Pain Linked to Psychosocial and Organizational Risks at Work

Investigators at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) with university partners have found a link between neck pain and specific psychosocial and organizational risks in the workplace.

In the United States, neck pain and other injuries to the upper arms and back are the underlying causes of approximately one-third of injury-related lost workdays in manufacturing. Across all industry nationwide, neck pain affects an estimated 15% of workers. At NIOSH, the causes and prevention of work-related neck pain and other muscle and bone injuries are research priorities.

In the current study, investigators found that neck pain was significantly more common among workers who reported one or more psychosocial and organizational risks in the workplace than it was among other workers. These risks included (1) work-family imbalance; (2) exposure to a hostile work environment and job insecurity; (3) non-standard work arrangements, such as contracting, consulting, on-call, or temporary work; (4) multiple jobs; and (5) long work hours.

The investigators analyzed data from the 2010 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). Administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the NHIS collects health information through personal interviews from a representative sample of the U.S. population.

Intervention programs targeted to these specific risk factors for neck pain could benefit workers, according to the investigators. In addition, long-term studies of both psychosocial and physical risks for work-related neck pain are important to confirm these findings and identify other risk factors.