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Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 2001 Mar;74(2):79-90.

Review of the factors associated with musculoskeletal problems in epidemiological studies.

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Université Catholique de Louvain, Unité Hygiène et Physiologie du Travail, Clos Chapelle-aux-Champs 30-38, 1200 Brussels, Belgium.



To review systematically all epidemiological studies of the past 15 years concerning the factors associated with musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) or complaints of the neck and upper limbs.


Fifty-seven cross-sectional and seven longitudinal studies were reviewed. A list was made of all personal, occupational, extra-occupational and psycho-organisational factors taken into consideration in each study, and of those that were found in association with MSDs. MSDs of the neck-shoulder region (NSs) and hand-wrist (HWs) were considered separately. About 70 different factors are listed.


This inventory identifies the factors or categories of factors that were generally taken into consideration. It makes it possible also to evaluate the strength of the association with a given factor, in considering the number of studies finding an association, and those that did not consider this factor. Based on this review, some factors taken into consideration (such as weight or hobbies) could be excluded in further studies, and replaced by more specific psycho-organisational factors.

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