Musculoskeletal Pain and Depressive Symptoms as Predictors of Trajectories in Work Ability Among Finnish Firefighters at 13-Year Follow-Up

Objective: To identify work ability trajectories among Finnish firefighters during a 13-year follow-up. We examined whether baseline musculoskeletal pain and depressive symptoms (DPS) predicted membership of the trajectories.
Methods: We studied 411 male firefighters who responded to a questionnaire at both baseline and at least one of two follow-ups. The outcome variable was perceived work ability (0 to 10). The predictors were musculoskeletal and depressive symptoms. Covariates included age, diseases, lifestyle habits, and work-related factors.
Results: One fourth of the firefighters belonged to the Diminished work ability trajectory. Musculoskeletal and depressive symptoms, lifestyle risks and diseases, and, in separate analyses, low back pain, were strong predictors of this.
Conclusions: When planning preventive actions and workplace health promotion among firefighters, even one site musculoskeletal pain and mild signs of depression should be taken into account. Prevention of adverse lifestyle habits is also essential.

Source: Punakallio, Anne PhD; Lusa, Sirpa PhD; Luukkonen, Ritva PhD; Airila, Auli MSc; Leino-Arjas, Päivi MD. Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine: April 2014 - Volume 56 - Issue 4 - p 367–375.

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