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March 04, 2003
Social Environment Factors Into Employee Back Pain
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eam of researchers found that people who are unhappy at their job and work under intense conditions are more likely to experience back pain than others, Reuters reports.

“We found that (psychological risks of back pain) were just as important as the physical side,” Dr. Janet M. Johnston from the University of Pittsburgh tells Reuters.

Johnston notes that the treatment of back pain is expensive – in health insurance and workers’ compensation – for employers. Johnston contends that the findings suggest employers should focus on both the physical and psychological risks of back pain when addressing worker health, according to Reuters.

For the study, the researchers conducted two interviews, separated by six months, with 6,311 employees who stocked shelves, unloaded deliveries or managed departments, Reuters reports. The team asked the employees about their work environments and their memory of back pain.

The researchers concluded that it's possible people who feel they lack control over their work environment or who are unhappy with their job could feel more stress, according to Reuters. As a result, the stress could increase tension in their bodies, which could make their bodies move in a way that has a higher risk of injury.

Johnston tells Reuters that it's also possible that people who are unhappy at work are more likely to remember and report pain. The study appears in the February issue of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.


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