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Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31828dc8ec
Original Articles

Does the Threshold for Reporting Musculoskeletal Pain or the Probability of Attributing Work-Relatedness Vary by Socioeconomic Position or Sex?

Mehlum, Ingrid Sivesind PhD; Kristensen, Petter PhD; Veiersted, Kaj Bo PhD; Wærsted, Morten PhD; Punnett, Laura ScD

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Abstract

Objective: To examine the effect of sex and socioeconomic position (SEP) on individuals' perceptions of pain and its work-relatedness.

Methods: We compared self-reported pain in neck–shoulder or arm with clinical diagnoses and workers' judgments of work-relatedness with physicians' assessments based on specific criteria, between sexes and high- and low-SEP participants in the Oslo Health Study (n = 217).

Results: Clinical diagnoses were more frequent in low-SEP subjects than high-SEP subjects with pain and generally higher in women than in men. Pain attributed to work was more frequently assessed as work-related by the physicians in low-SEP subjects than high-SEP subjects and in men than in women of low SEP.

Conclusions: The threshold for reporting pain seemed higher in low-SEP subjects and among women. Physicians were more likely to agree with low-SEP workers about work-relatedness.

Copyright © 2013 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine

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