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Musculoskeletal pain and reported workplace assault: a prospective study of clinical staff in nursing homes.

Miranda H; Punnett L; Gore RJ; ProCare Research Team
Hum Factors 2014 Feb; 56(1):215-227
Objective: This study examined prospectively the effect of workplace violence on musculoskeletal symptoms among nursing home workers. Background: Previously we reported a cross-sectional relationship between physical assaults at work and musculoskeletal pain. This follow-up provides stronger evidence of the effect of workplace violence on musculoskeletal outcomes within the same workforce over two years. Method: Nursing home workers who responded to three consecutive annual surveys formed the study cohort (n = 344). The outcomes were any musculoskeletal pain, widespread pain, pain intensity, pain interference with work and sleep, and co-occurring pain with depression. The main predictor was self-reported physical assault at work during the 3 months preceding each survey. Prevalence ratios (PRs) were assessed with log-binomial regression, adjusting for other workplace and individual factors. Results: Every fourth nursing home worker, and 34% of nursing aides, reported persistent workplace assault over the 2 years. Among respondents assaulted frequently, two thirds experienced moderate to extreme musculoskeletal pain, and more than 50% had pain interfering with work and/or sleep. Baseline exposure to assault predicted pain outcomes 1 year later. Repeated exposure was associated with a linear increase over 2 years in the risks of pain intensity, interference with work, and interference with sleep; co-occurring pain and depression had an adjusted PR of 3.6 (95% CI = 1.7-7.9). Conclusion: Workplace assault, especially when repeated over time, increases the risk of pain that may jeopardize workers' ability to remain employed. Application: More effective assault prevention would protect and support the workforce needed to care for our increasing elderly and disabled population.
Human-factors-engineering; Musculoskeletal-system; Humans; Health-care; Health-care-personnel; Nurses; Nursing; Worker-health; Physiological-effects; Physiological-stress; Mental-health; Health-surveys; Health-services; Psychological-effects; Pain-tolerance; Sleep-deprivation; Health-protection; Epidemiology; Work-capability; Author Keywords: depression; epidemiology; health care; multisite pain; musculoskeletal; sleep; work ability; workplace violence; Total-Worker-Health
Laura Punnett, Department of Work Environment, University of Massachusetts Lowell, One University Avenue, Lowell, MA 01854, USA
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Email Address
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U19-OH-008857; M122013
Issue of Publication
Priority Area
Healthcare and Social Assistance
Source Name
Human Factors
Performing Organization
University of Massachusetts, Lowell
Page last reviewed: April 1, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division