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Pain. 2011 Sep;152(9):2006-15. doi: 10.1016/j.pain.2011.04.018. Epub 2011 May 13.

Links between nurses' organisational work environment and upper limb musculoskeletal symptoms: independently of effort-reward imbalance! The ORSOSA study.

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Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM) Unit 558, Toulouse F-31000, France.


The role of psychosocial factors in the development of upper limb musculoskeletal disorders has now been clearly demonstrated. However, only a few studies have analysed the association between the organisational work environment and musculoskeletal disorders in health care workers. The main goal of this study was to test the hypothesis that some specific organisational constraints may be related to upper limb musculoskeletal symptoms experienced by registered nurses, independently of the effort/reward imbalance model and major confounding factors. In 2006, 2194 female registered nurses in 7 French teaching hospitals, recruited from the baseline screening of an epidemiological cohort study (the ORSOSA study), responded to valid self-report questionnaires (ERI [effort-reward imbalance], Nordic-style questionnaire). The organisational work environment was assessed by the self-rated Nursing Work Index-Extended Organisation scale. Multilevel models were used for analyses. We found that 2 organisational health care constraints: low level of shared values about work between members in the unit and lack of support from the administration were significantly associated with upper limb symptoms, independently of ERI perceptions. This study identified and quantified specific health care organisational factors that have an impact on nurses' upper limb symptoms, sometimes independently of ERI perception. A prospective study is needed to clarify the causal role of psychosocial and organisational work factors in upper limb injury in nurses. Organisational approaches may be more effective in improving health at work and may also have a longer-lasting impact than individual approaches.

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