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Occup Med (Lond). 2008 Jan;58(1):58-63. Epub 2007 Dec 10.

Perceived job demands relate to self-reported health complaints.

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ArboNed Corporate Accounts, PO Box 158, 8000 AD Zwolle, The Netherlands.



Illness and illness behaviour are important problems in the Dutch workforce. Illness has been associated with job demands, with high demands relating to poorer health. It has not been reported whether subjective health complaints relate to job demands.


To investigate whether perceived (physical and mental) workload and specific job demands are associated with self-reported health complaints.


Cross-sectional study of a random sample of 983 male employees working in manufacturing industry. Job demands and health complaints were investigated using the self-completed Basic Occupational Health Questionnaire. The relationship between demands and health complaints were studied using logistic regression analysis with health complaints as the outcome variable.


The questionnaires of 867 workers (88%) were suitable for analysis. The prevalence of health complaints was high. Physical workload was related to musculoskeletal symptoms. Standing work predicted pain in the legs and thoracic as well as low back pain, while sedentary work predicted low back pain. Heavy lifting predicted low back pain and pain in the extremities. Regular bending predicted low back pain and pain in the legs. Repetitive movements predicted pain in the arms and thoracic as well as low back pain. Mental workload was associated with fatigue and chest pain. Working under time pressure and working behind schedule were not related to self-reported health complaints.


Perceived physical job demands matched with self-reported musculoskeletal complaints, whereas perceived mental job demands were unrelated to specific complaints.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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