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Joint Bone Spine
Volume 78, n° 4
pages 392-397 (juillet 2011)
Doi : 10.1016/j.jbspin.2010.09.022
accepted : 8 September 2010
Work related characteristics of back and neck pain among employees of a Swiss University Hospital

Stéphane Genevay a, , Christine Cedraschi b, Delphine S. Courvoisier c, Thomas V. Perneger c, Raphael Grandjean c, Anne-Claude Griesser d, Dominique Monnin e
a Division of Rheumatology, University Hospitals of Geneva, Hôpital Beau-Séjour, 26, avenus Beau-Séjour, 1211 Genève 14, Switzerland 
b Division of Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, Multidisciplinary Pain Center & Division of General Medical Rehabilitation, University Hospitals of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland 
c Division of Clinical Epidemiology University Hospitals of Geneva, and University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland 
d Back pain Care Program, University Hospitals of Geneva, and Medical Directorate, University Hospital of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland 
e Care Services Directorate, Unit of Physiotherapy Research and Quality Assurance, University Hospitals of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland 

Corresponding author. Tel.: +0041223823672; fax: +0041223823535.

1) To explore the staff- and work-related risk factors for spinal pain among hospital employees, 2) to investigate the effect of staff- and work-related variables on the consequences of spinal pain, such as doctor visits and sick leave.


A mailed survey was carried out in a random sample of 2700 employees stratified for occupational categories (administration staff, nurses, nurse assistants, physicians, support staff and allied health professionals). The questionnaire measured self-reported spinal pain, consequences of pain, and work characteristics.


The response rate was 48.1% (1298/2700). The one-year prevalence of spinal pain was 67.3%, highest among nurses (75.6%) and lowest among support staff (54.9%). Reported work characteristics associated with spinal pain included frequent work at a poorly adapted work station (odds ratio (OR) 1.90 [1.24–2.93]) and having to maintain a position for a long time (OR 1.71 [1.25–2.34]). No significant correlations were observed with lifting, patient handling, material handling, or working on nightshift. Sickness leave due to spinal pain was significantly associated with duration of pain episode (OR 4.08 for>3 months compared to less than 10 days), and with work categories (OR 2.58 for nurse assistants compared to nurses).


In this population of hospital employees, being a nurse, working at a poorly adapted work place, and having to maintain positions for a long time were related independently to spinal pain. Nurse assistants had a higher risk of work absenteeism.

The full text of this article is available in PDF format.

Keywords : Back and neck pain, Epidemiology workplace, Risk factors

© 2010  Société française de rhumatologie@@#104156@@