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Eur J Pain. 2012 Jul;16(6):911-20. doi: 10.1002/j.1532-2149.2011.00065.x. Epub 2011 Dec 19.

Risk factors of chronic neck pain: a prospective study among middle-aged employees.

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Department of Public Health, Hjelt Institute, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.



To study the associations of sociodemographic factors, working conditions, lifestyle and previous pain in the spine with new onset chronic neck pain (NP).


The participants were municipal employees free of chronic NP at baseline, aged 40, 45, 50, 55 or 60 years (n = 5277, 80% women). Self-reported data on occupational class, working conditions, body mass index, smoking, exercise, mental well-being, sleep problems, NP and low back pain (LBP) were obtained from baseline questionnaire surveys in 2000-2002. The question on chronic NP was repeated in a follow-up in 2007. Logistic regression analysis was used.


The incidence of chronic NP was 15% in women and 9% in men. In multivariable analysis among women, acute NP [odds ratio (OR) 3.8, 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.9-5.1], chronic LBP (1.6, 1.2-2.2), reporting current workplace bullying (OR 1.6, 95% CI 1.1-2.4), earlier bullying at the present workplace (1.6, 1.2-2.0), and earlier bullying in another workplace (1.8, 1.3-2.4), frequent sleep problems (1.5, 1.2-2.0), overweight (1.2, 1.0-1.5), and obesity (1.4, 1.1-1.8) predicted chronic NP at follow-up. Men with acute NP (2.3, 1.4-3.8), chronic LBP (2.3, 1.2-4.3), manual occupational class (1.8, 1.1-3.1) and high work-related emotional exhaustion (1.9, 1.1-3.3) at baseline had an increased risk of new onset chronic NP.


We found potentially modifiable predictors of chronic NP among employees: workplace bullying, sleep problems, and high body mass index in women, and work-related emotional exhaustion in men. In both genders, previous acute NP and chronic LBP were predictive of chronic NP.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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