The Consequence of Combined Pain and Stress on Work Ability in Female Laboratory Technicians

A Cross-Sectional Study
Musculoskeletal pain and stress-related disorders are leading causes of impaired work ability, sickness absences and disability pensions. However, knowledge about the combined detrimental effect of pain and stress on work ability is lacking. This study investigates the association between pain in the neck-shoulders, perceived stress, and work ability. In a cross-sectional survey at a large pharmaceutical company in Denmark 473 female laboratory technicians replied to questions about stress (Perceived Stress Scale), musculoskeletal pain intensity (scale 0–10) of the neck and shoulders, and work ability (Work Ability Index). General linear models tested the association between variables. In the multi-adjusted model, stress (p < 0.001) and pain (p < 0.001) had independent main effects on the work ability index score, and there was no significant stress by pain interaction (p = 0.32). Work ability decreased gradually with both increased stress and pain. Workers with low stress and low pain had the highest Work Ability Index score (44.6 (95% CI 43.9–45.3)) and workers with high stress and high pain had the lowest score (32.7 (95% CI 30.6–34.9)). This cross-sectional study indicates that increased stress and musculoskeletal pain are independently associated with lower work ability in female laboratory technicians.

Source: Jay K, Friborg MK, Sjøgaard G, et al. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2015; 12 (12): p. 15834-42.

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