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Am J Ind Med. 2014 Jul;57(7):819-25. doi: 10.1002/ajim.22332. Epub 2014 Apr 23.

Construction workers working in musculoskeletal pain and engaging in leisure-time physical activity: Findings from a mixed-methods pilot study.

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Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts.



While exercise has been shown to be beneficial for some musculoskeletal pain conditions, construction workers who are regularly burdened with musculoskeletal pain may engage less in leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) due to pain. In a small pilot study, we investigate how musculoskeletal pain may influence participation in LTPA among construction workers.


A sequential explanatory mixed-methods design was employed using a jobsite-based survey (n = 43) among workers at two commercial construction sites and one focus group (n = 5).


Over 93% of these construction workers reported engaging in LTPA and 70% reported musculoskeletal pain. Fifty-seven percent of workers who met either moderate or vigorous LTPA guidelines reported lower extremity pain (i.e., ankle, knee) compared with 21% of those who did not engage in either LTPA (P = 0.04). Focus group analyses indicate that workers felt they already get significant physical activity out of their job because they are "moving all the time and not sitting behind a desk." Workers also felt they "have no choice but to work through pain and discomfort [as the worker] needs to do anything to get the job done."


Pilot study findings suggest that construction workers not only engage in either moderate or vigorous LTPA despite musculoskeletal pain but workers in pain engage in more LTPA than construction workers without pain.


construction workers; mixedmethods; musculoskeletal pain; physical activity

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