Theses Doctoral

Job Strain and Neck Symptoms in Work-related Musculoskeletal Disorders

Su, Chien-Tien

Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMDs) are a major public health problem in terms of the considerable amount of disability, impairment, and associated economic cost. Among these disorders, the occurrence of WMD symptoms of the neck is prevalent and has been associated with significant disability, long periods of sick leave and loss of productivity in occupational settings. Risk factors for WMDs are multifactorial, and studies have typically focused on ergonomic factors. Psychosocial factors in the work environment have been recently considered; however, findings across these studies have not been consistent. Despite the evidence associated with ergonomic factors on the occurrence of WMDs, widespread prevention and treatment efforts have not been successfully implemented. Psychosocial factors such as high psychological demands, low decision latitude and low social support may play a role in WMD occurrence.
The demand-control-support model has been widely used to predict job strain. Particularly for disorders of the neck, job strain seems to play a strong role in their occurrence. The psychosocial work environment and WMDs are listed as research priorities of the National Occupational Research Agenda developed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
This cross-sectional study looked at job strain and neck symptoms, while controlling for confounders. This project was carried out on a group of semiconductor manufacturing workers.
The prevalence of neck symptoms was measured by a self-administered questionnaire. A Chinese version of the Job Content Questionnaire was included to assess psychosocial factors and to test the demand-control-support model. An observational checklist was developed and used to assess ergonomic exposures on individual workers' jobs.
The participation rate was 86.5%. The final sample of semiconductor workers consisted of 373 female participants. Their mean age was 28.4 years ranging from 18 to 41 years. The mean length of employment was 4.3 years. The prevalence of symptoms of neck disorders in the semiconductor manufacturing population was 23.9%.
It was concluded that the prevalence rates of neck symptoms of WMDs in this study were high, especially given the very conservative outcome definition that was used. The study findings partially supported the job strain model, showing an increase in prevalence of neck symptoms with psychological and physical job demands; however, association with decision latitude and social support were not supported. Further studies with more comprehensive measurements of work-related psychosocial factors are implicated and effective prevention strategies for neck symptoms of WMDs are suggested.


  • thumnail for 294453_pdf_288492_19B24EFE-F22D-11E3-A054-8546EF8616FA.pdf 294453_pdf_288492_19B24EFE-F22D-11E3-A054-8546EF8616FA.pdf application/pdf 758 KB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
Sociomedical Sciences
Thesis Advisors
Lennon, Mary Clare
Dr.P.H., Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University
Published Here
June 27, 2017