Content » Vol 23, Issue 3

Psychosocial job factors and symptoms from the locomotor system--a multicausal analysis

Theorell T1, Harms-Ringdahl K, Ahlberg-Hultén G, Westin B
National Institute for Psychosocial Factors and Health, Stockholm, Sweden
DOI: 10.1080/165019779123165173


The effects of physical and psychosocial work environment factors on emotions, psychosomatic and endocrine (cortisol and testosterone) states, back pain, symptoms of degenerative joint disease, and absenteeism for sickness, were studied in 147 men and 60 women in six occupations representing widely different physical and psychological activities. In most subjects, measurements were carried out twice to four times over one year. Statistical analyses were performed of the associations between different factor levels, such as age, gender, height, body mass index, and physical stressors at work. It was found that psychological work demands were associated with physiological indicators of strain (plasma cortisol and self-reported muscle tension) and that self-reported muscle tension was associated with several emotional reactions as well as with symptoms from the back, neck and shoulders. Little possibility for decision-making was associated with a high rate of absenteeism for sickness. In men, a high plasma testosterone level was associated with self-reported muscle tension. The results indicate that work environment factors influence mood, bodily tension and somatic symptoms, but that load on the locomotor system and opportunity to influence decisions play an important and more direct role in absenteeism for sickness

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