Individual, physical and psychological risk factors for neck pain in Australian office workers

A 1-year longitudinal study

Julia M. Hush, Zoe Michaleff, Christopher G. Maher, Kathryn Refshauge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

68 Citations (Scopus)


Neck pain is more prevalent in office workers than in the general community. To date, findings from prospective studies that investigated causal relationships between putative risk factors and the onset of neck pain in this population have been limited by high loss to follow-up. The aim of this research was to prospectively evaluate a range of risk factors for neck pain in office workers, using validated and reliable objective measures as well as attain an estimate of 1-year incidence. We assembled a cohort of 53 office workers without neck pain and measured individual, physical, workplace and psychological factors at baseline. We followed participants for 1 year to measure the incidence of neck pain. We achieved 100% participant follow-up. Cox regression analysis was applied to examine the relationship between the putative risk factors and the cumulative incidence of neck pain. The 1-year incidence proportion of neck pain in Australian office workers was estimated in this study to be 0.49 (95% CI 0.36-0.62). Predictors of neck pain with moderate to large effect sizes were female gender (HR: 3.07; 95% CI: 1.18-7.99) and high psychological stress (HR: 1.64; 95% CI: 0.66-4.07). Protective factors included increased mobility of the cervical spine (HR: 0.44; 95% CI: 0.19-1.05) and frequent exercise (HR: 0.64; 95% CI: 0.27-1.51). These results reveal that neck pain is common in Australian office workers and that there are risk factors that are potentially modifiable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1532-1540
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Spine Journal
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

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