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Stress management and musculoskeletal disdsorders in knowledge workers: The possible mediating effects of stress hormones
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences.
2006 (English)In: Advances in Physiotherapy, ISSN 1403-8196, E-ISSN 1651-1948, Vol. 8, no 1, 5-14 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Psychosocial stressors have been reported to be a risk factor for musculoskeletal symptoms (MSS) in modern offices. The exact mechanisms are not known but there are two theories. One concerns mentally induced muscle tension, and the other concerns impact on muscle fibers from stress hormones. To date, there have been only descriptive studies and short-term studies of the possible role of stress in the etiology of MSS symptoms. Furthermore, none have involved hormonal end-points and the use of a prospective and controlled design. The aims of this study were to (i) assess the possible impact on MSS (in neck and back/lower arm, respectively) from structured stress management programs, and (ii) determine the possible mediating role of stress hormones in linking stress and MSS symptoms. The subjects were telecommunications systems design engineers. Participants responded to a standardized questionnaire on MSS. Each subject also responded to a comprehensive questionnaire on psychosocial and physical work environments. Blood samples were collected as well, in order to measure possible changes in the psychobiological markers. Half of the subjects participated in one of three stress management programs (n=66), while the other half functioned as a reference group (n=50). Stress management significantly reduced lower-arm symptoms during the active training period of the study. There was an interaction between higher testosterone levels and stress management on the one hand and lower-arm symptoms on the other. No remaining effects on lower-arm symptoms were seen at the 5-month follow-up after the formal training was terminated. Results suggest that stress management might be beneficial for certain types of MSS in the short term, with active coaching from a group leader. There is support for theories suggesting that stress-sensitive hormones have a role in linking stress to MSS.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2006. Vol. 8, no 1, 5-14 p.
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-94078DOI: 10.1080/14038190500494683OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-94078DiVA: diva2:167804
Available from: 2006-03-16 Created: 2006-03-16 Last updated: 2013-03-21Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Advanced Knowledge Work and Stress-related Symptoms: Epidemiology and Clinical Intervention Studies
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Advanced Knowledge Work and Stress-related Symptoms: Epidemiology and Clinical Intervention Studies
2006 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Well educated knowledge workers are a growing group of the work force. Little research has been conducted on this group regarding possible work-related health symptoms, as well as interventions in order to reduce work-related stress. This thesis describes the current work-related symptoms and potential risk and salutogenic, i.e. protective factors, associated with these symptoms among software and system designers in a high tech company in Sweden. A stress management intervention program was launched in order to evaluate whether work-related stress might be a risk factors for these symptoms. It was also of interest to study the potential impact of stress management interventions on psychosocial work organizational factors.

The thesis is based on cross sectional and longitudinal data. Paper I is focusing on risk factors for musculoskeletal symptoms and headaches, and their possible association with biological markers and self-reported physical and psychosocial work environmental factors. Paper II assessed the association between occupational psychosocial factors and psychosomatic symptoms i.e. mental fatigue, headache, restlessness, irritation, moodiness and difficulty concentrating. Paper III and IV evaluated the effects of a stress management program including three different stress reducing strategies, on musculoskeletal and skin symptoms as well as headaches, and on the perceived psychosocial work environment.

The overall results indicate that psychosocial factors via stress sensitive hormones have an impact on employee health in a high technological work environment. Furthermore, stress management interventions, conducted as relaxation and mental training, had short-term favorable effects on some musculoskeletal and skin symptoms. It seems that competence and competence utilization among advanced knowledge workers are psychosocial work environmental factors that need to be take into consideration in future health preventive ventures.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2006. 53 p.
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Medicine, ISSN 1651-6206 ; 115
Social medicine, musculoskeletal, hedache, skinsymptoms, physiology, psychosocial, stress management, intervention, Socialmedicin
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-6549 (URN)91-554-6479-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2006-04-06, Fåhraeus salen, Rudbeck laboratoriet, Dag Hammarskjöldsväg 20, Uppsala, 09:15
Available from: 2006-03-16 Created: 2006-03-16Bibliographically approved

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