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The influence of climatic factors on non-specific back and neck-shoulder disease

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Author: Hildebrandt, V.H. · Bongers, P.M. · Dijk, F.J.H. van · Kemper, H.C.G. · Dul, J.
Institution: TNO Preventie en Gezondheid
Source:Ergonomics, 1, 45, 32-48
Identifier: 236443
doi: doi:10.1080/00140130110110629
Keywords: Workplace · Werkomstandigheden · Werkomgeving · Arbeidsomstandigheden · Rugklachten · Hernia · Temperatuur · Vochtigheid · Klimaat · Spieraandoeningen · Ziekteverzuim · Sociaal verzuim · Draught · Musculoskeletal risk factors · Outdoors work · Season · Weather · Working conditions · Climatology · Epidemiology · Musculoskeletal system · Ergonomics · Disease exacerbation · Environmental exposure · Epidemiological data · Female · Geographic distribution · Industrial worker · Low back pain · Major clinical study · Musculoskeletal disease · Neck pain · Occupational hazard · Paramedical profession · Population research · Shoulder pain · Symptom · Work environment · Worker · Adult · Back Pain · Climate · Humans · Male · Neck Pain · Netherlands · Occupational Exposure · Questionnaires · Shoulder Pain · Workload · Workplace


An epidemiological study was carried out to explore the relationship between climatic factors and non-specific low-back and neck-shoulder symptoms in working populations. In a review of published literature, 27 studies were found which related climatic factors to musculoskeletal symptoms, but none of these studies specifically addressed the subject. It can be concluded that a relationship between climatic factors and musculoskeletal symptoms is considered at least plausible by both researchers, workers and patients, but that the epidemiological evidence appearing from literature is very weak. Questionnaire data which were collected on musculoskeletal symptoms, workload and perceptions of climatic conditions of 2030 workers in 24 different occupations were analysed multivariately. About one-quarter of the workers related symptoms of the low back and neck-shoulders to climatic factors. They perceived climatic factors in most cases as aggravating factors for their symptoms. No seasonal influence on prevalence rates was reported. For low-back and neck-shoulder symptoms and for sick leave due to neck-shoulder symptoms, an association was found with climatic factors, and in particular with respect to draughts in relation to neck-shoulder symptoms. In addition, neck-shoulder symptoms were negatively related to frequent outdoor work. The findings suggest a relationship between climatic factors and musculoskeletal symptoms and call for further detailed investigations.