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Scandinavian Journal of Pain

Official Journal of the Scandinavian Association for the Study of Pain

Editor-in-Chief: Breivik, Harald

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Musculoskeletal pain in multiple body sites and work ability in the general working population: cross-sectional study among 10,000 wage earners

Mohammad Bayattork
  • Corresponding author
  • Health and Sports Medicine Department, Faculty of Physical Education and Sport Sciences, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran
  • Sport Sciences and Physical Education, Faculty of Humanities Science, University of Hormozgan, Bandar Abbas, Iran
  • National Research Centre for the Working Environment, Copenhagen, Denmark, Phone: 00989155521005
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Markus D. Jakobsen / Emil Sundstrup / Foad Seidi
  • Health and Sports Medicine Department, Faculty of Physical Education and Sport Sciences, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Hans Bay / Lars L. Andersen
  • National Research Centre for the Working Environment, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Sport Sciences, Department of Health Science and Technology, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2018-10-31 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sjpain-2018-0304


Background and aims

Musculoskeletal pain may negatively affect work ability, especially when work demands are high and/or physical capacity of the worker is low. This study investigated the association between intensity of musculoskeletal pain in multiple body regions and work ability among young and old workers with sedentary and physical demanding jobs.


Currently employed wage earners (n=10,427) replied to questions about pain intensity, work ability, and physical work demands. The odds ratio (OR) for having a lower level of work ability in relation to the physical demands at work were modeled using logistic regression controlled for various confounders.


The OR for lower work ability increased with higher pain intensity in all regions among workers with sedentary and physical work. The same pattern was observed among workers <50 years and ≥50 years in both work types. The association was quite consistent across age and work activity groups, although it tended to be more pronounced among those with physically demanding work in some of pain regions.


This study shows that increasing pain intensity in multiple sites of the body is associated with lower work ability. This was seen for both younger and older workers as well as those with sedentary and physical work.


Physical workers with multiple-site pain may especially be at increased risk of the consequences of reduced work ability. Therefore, extra attention is needed and this group may benefit from better targeted preventive measures.

Keywords: musculoskeletal pain; work ability; sedentary workers; physical workers; job demands


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About the article

Received: 2018-08-24

Revised: 2018-09-24

Accepted: 2018-10-11

Published Online: 2018-10-31

Authors’ statements

Research funding: Authors state no funding involved.

Conflict of interest: Authors state no conflict of interest.

Informed consent: Not applicable (see below).

Ethical approval: According to Danish law, questionnaire and register based studies do not need approval by ethical and scientific committees, nor informed consent. All data was de-identified and analyzed anonymously.

Citation Information: Scandinavian Journal of Pain, 20180304, ISSN (Online) 1877-8879, ISSN (Print) 1877-8860, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sjpain-2018-0304.

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©2018 Scandinavian Association for the Study of Pain. Published by Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston. All rights reserved..Get Permission

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