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Relationships between work-related factors and musculoskeletal health with current and future work ability among male workers

Journal article
Authors J. S. Boschman
Adnan Noor
R. Lundstrom
T. Nilsson
J. K. Sluiter
Mats Hagberg
Published in International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health
Volume 90
Issue 6
Pages 517-526
ISSN 0340-0131
Publication year 2017
Published at Institute of Medicine, School of Public Health and Community Medicine
Institute of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Section of Occupational and environmental medicine
Pages 517-526
Language en
Keywords Cohort studies, Occupational health, Musculoskeletal disease, Work, Hand strength, Occupations, vibration exposure, grip strength, follow-up, trajectories, symptoms, index, associations, disorders, employees, capacity, Public, Environmental & Occupational Health
Subject categories Health Sciences


The purpose was to increase job-specific knowledge about individual and work-related factors and their relationship with current and future work ability (WA). We studied cross-sectional relationships between mental demands, physical exertion during work, grip strength, musculoskeletal pain in the upper extremities and WA and the relationships between these variables and WA 11 years later. We used a dataset of a prospective cohort study (1997-2008) among employees of an engineering plant (n = 157). The cohort was surveyed by means of tests and written questions on work demands, musculoskeletal health, WA score (WAS; 0-10), and mental and physical WA. Spearman correlation coefficients and logistic regression analysis were used. Among manual workers, we found weak correlations between grip strength and current and future physical WA. We did not find predictors for future poor WA among the manual workers. Among the office workers, we found that musculoskeletal pain was moderately and negatively related to current WAS and physical WA. More handgrip strength related to better future WAS and physical WA. Musculoskeletal pain (OR 1.67 p < 0.01) and lower handgrip strength (OR 0.91 p < 0.05) predicted future poor WA among office workers. Our results showed cross-sectional and longitudinal relationships between musculoskeletal health and work ability depending on occupation. However, the present implies that predicting work ability in the far future based on health surveillance data is rather difficult. Testing the musculoskeletal system (grip strength) and asking workers' about their musculoskeletal health seems relevant when monitoring work ability.

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