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Vol. 22. Issue 4.
Pages 318-327 (01 July 2018)
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Vol. 22. Issue 4.
Pages 318-327 (01 July 2018)
Original Research
DOI: 10.1016/j.bjpt.2018.03.003
Modifiable individual and work-related factors associated with neck pain in 740 office workers: a cross-sectional study
Xiaoqi Chena,
Corresponding author

Corresponding author at: Division of Physiotherapy, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, The University of Queensland, Saint Lucia, Queensland 4072, Australia.
, Shaun O’Learya,b, Venerina Johnstonc
a University of Queensland, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Brisbane, Australia
b Queensland Health, Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital, Department of Physiotherapy, Brisbane, Australia
c The University of Queensland, RECOVER Injury Research Centre, Brisbane, Australia

  • 763 office workers with and without neck pain were recruited.

  • Neck pain was significantly associated with several individual and work-related factors.

  • Several of the individual and work-related factors are potentially modifiable.

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Figures (1)
Tables (4)
Table 1. Participant characteristics of office workers with and without neck paina (n=740).
Table 2. Comparison between office workers with and without neck paina (n=740).
Table 3. Risk factors associated with the presence of neck pain (adjusted for age, sex and body mass index) (n=740).
Table 4. Post hoc analysis of the univariate relationships between occupational categories and the independent variables, adjusted for age and sex (n=740).
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Office workers have the highest incidence of neck pain of all occupations. However, the relationship between symptoms and the risk factors is unclear.


To examine the relationship between self-reported neck pain with a comprehensive range of individual and work-related risk factors.


This study utilised a cross-sectional study design. Office workers with and without neck pain (n=763) were recruited. Participants completed a survey which included a Pain Numerical Rating Scale (dependent variable), and measures of independent variables including demographic, individual, work-related factors, neck/shoulder muscle strength, endurance, and range of motion (ROM). The relationships between the independent and dependent variables were analysed in a logistic regression model.


Neck pain was significantly associated with more senior occupational categories, working more than six hours per day on the computer, female sex, greater fear avoidance beliefs for work, greater psychological distress, and reduced cervical flexion ROM. The low severity of neck pain of the participants in this study may limit a robust determination of their association with the risk factor variables, but the studied sample is a realistic representation of the office worker population.


Several potentially modifiable individual and work-related factors were identified to be associated with the presence of self-reported neck pain in office workers. Future studies will be needed to investigate whether strategies to alter these modifiable risk factors translate to changes in neck pain.

Trial registration: ACTRN12612001154897 (

Neck pain
Office work
Risk factors


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