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Work. 2011;38(4):329-35. doi: 10.3233/WOR-2011-1136.

Knee and low back complaints in professional hospital nurses: occurrence, chronicity, care seeking and absenteeism.

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Department of Public Health, School of Medicine, University of Patras, Greece.



To investigate the relationships between physical, psychosocial, and individual characteristics and occurrence, chronicity, care seeking and absenteeism due to musculoskeletal complaints of the lower back and knee.


This was a cross-sectional study among 350 nursing personnel in six hospitals in South-West Greece. Data related to physical and psychosocial workload, need for recovery, perceived general health and other risk factors for occurrence of low-back and knee complaints were collected. Odds ratios (ORs) were estimated for all relevant risk factors.


Low-back and knee pain were reported by 51% and 23% of the subjects, respectively. A high perceived physical exertion and a moderate/bad perceived general health were the strongest risk factor for low-back and knee pain. With regard to care seeking a moderate/bad perceived general health was risk factor for both, low back and knee pain (OR=3.45 and OR=2.28; respectively). Perceived moderate/bad general health (OR=2.90) and high need for recovery (OR=2.78) were risk factors for absenteeism due to low-back pain, whereas organizational factors, high job demands (OR=4.60) and low co workers support (OR=3.13) for absenteeism due to knee pain. Age exhibited a positive relation with the disability and care seeking for both complaints although far stronger for knee.


Compared to the well-studied work related low back pain, knee complaints have been shown to cause significant burden in nursing staff. Besides general health status of individual workers, work-related psychosocial factors, like support and demand, are related with the disability and care seeking for knee complaints.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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