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Work Organization and Musculoskeletal Health: Clinical Findings From Immigrant Latino Poultry Processing and Other Manual Workers

Grzywacz, Joseph G. PhD; Arcury, Thomas A. PhD; Mora, Dana MPH; Anderson, Andrea M. MS; Chen, Haiying PhD; Rosenbaum, Daryl A. MD; Schulz, Mark R. PhD; Quandt, Sara A. PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: August 2012 - Volume 54 - Issue 8 - p 995–1001
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e318254640d

Objective: To determine the potential role of differential exposure to work organization hazards in musculoskeletal disorders among immigrant Latino workers.

Method: Self-reported work organization data were obtained from immigrant Latino workers in poultry processing and nonpoultry, manual occupations (N = 742). Clinical evaluations for epicondylitis, rotator cuff syndrome, and back pain were obtained from a subsample (n = 518).

Results: Several work organization hazards (eg, low job control, high psychological demands) were elevated among poultry processing workers. Job control predicted epicondylitis (odds ratio [OR] = 0.77) and rotator cuff syndrome (OR = 0.79); psychological demand predicted rotator cuff syndrome (OR = 1.30) and back pain (OR = 1.24); awkward posture and repeated movements predicted all three outcomes; and management safety commitment predicted rotator cuff syndrome (OR = 1.65) and back pain (OR = 1.81).

Discussion: Immigrant poultry processing workers are exposed to greater work organization hazards that may contribute to occupational health disparities.

From the Department of Family and Community Medicine (Drs Grzywacz, Arcury and Rosenbaum) and Center for Worker Health (Drs Grzywacz, Arcury, and Quandt, and Ms Mora), Wake Forest School of Medicine; Department of Epidemiology and Prevention (Ms Mora and Dr Quandt) and Department of Biostatistical Sciences (Dr Chen and Ms Anderson), Division of Public Health Sciences, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC; and Department of Public Health Education (Dr Schulz), University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Address correspondence to: Joseph G. Grzywacz, PhD, Department of Family and Community Medicine, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Medical Center Blvd, Winston-Salem, NC 27157 (

This research was supported by a grant from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health R01-OH009251.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

©2012The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine