Musculoskeletal pain (MP) is highly prevalent in the working population, often resulting in chronic disability. Work stress has been shown to be important in the aetiology of MP. Burnout is a unique affective response to chronic exposure to stress and might predict subsequent development of MP. To date, however, all studies in this area have been based on a cross-sectional design, which prevents determining the direction of causality. This prospective study tested the extent to which baseline levels of burnout predict the onset of regional neck/shoulder and/or low back pain, in apparently healthy individuals. The participants were composed of 650 employed men and women who underwent follow-up for 3-5 years. During the follow-up period, 116 workers (17.8%) developed musculoskeletal pain. Logistic regression results indicated that burnout symptoms were associated with a 1.67-fold increased risk of MP [95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.14-1.87], even after adjusting for possible confounding variables (such as white- or blue-collar jobs). Those exhibiting high burnout levels, compared with others, showed higher relative risk of MP [odds ratio (OR) = 2.45, 95%CI = 1.35-4.45]. It was concluded that burnout might be a risk factor for the development of musculoskeletal pain in apparently healthy individuals.
- Musculoskeletal pain
- Psychosocial factors