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More autonomy at work cuts low back pain risk


London: While physical factors such as incorrect posture or sitting for too long are generally related to chronic low back pain, new research has found that employees with more job control are less likely to suffer from the disease.

The research, published in the journal BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, indicates that not only physical but also psychological and social factors exert considerable influence on the development of the pain disorder.

“People with a high workload suffered more frequently from chronic low back pain. Employees with more job control were less affected,” explained social psychologist Anne Tomaschek from Dresden University of Technology (TU Dresden) in Germany.

It was also shown that back pain was lower when people received social support at work from their superiors and colleagues.

Worldwide, more than 23 per cent of the population suffers from chronic low back pain (CLBP).


This makes CLBP the most prevalent chronic pain disorder, associated with immense costs to the health care system.

For the study, the team of psychologists carried out a meta-analysis to identify psychosocial work factors that pose a risk for the development of chronic low back pain.

The team synthesised more than 19,000 data sets from 18 studies investigating associations between psychosocial areas of work life and CLBP.

The researchers from TU Dresden were able to show that psychosocial areas of work life such as workload, job control and social support significantly contribute to the development of the disease, as well.

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