BACKGROUND: MUSIC-Norrtälje study is a case-referent study, the aim of which is to find risk and health factors for low back and neck/shoulder disorders. In this part of the study, the interview technique and the self-administered questionnaire used for assessment of physical loads are described and the inter-method reliability of parts of the self-administered questionnaire is estimated. The distribution of exposure levels in a general population is also described. METHODS: The study period was three years from November 1993 to November 1996, and the study subjects totaled 2,480 persons (813 female and 610 male referents, 380 female and 315 male low back cases, 252 female and 106 male neck/shoulder cases). The interview concerned "a typical working day" during the preceding 12 months and comprised assessment of energy expenditure, work postures, and manual materials handling for work and leisure time, including regular sport activities. The self-administered questionnaire comprised 18 questions, each covering 5 different points of time: right now, 5, 10, 15, 20 years ago. The answers to eight of the questions about current conditions were compared to corresponding interview responses. The interview was considered as the "gold standard." RESULTS: Ninety-eight percent of the subjects completed the interview without any great difficulties. According to the interview, the distributions of different exposure levels were generally positively skewed, i.e., the frequency of highly exposed subjects was low in the study base. The correlation between interview and questionnaire responses among the referents was high for time spent "sitting at work" (r = 0.82), "VDU work" (r = 0.87), and work related "motor vehicle driving" (r = 0.80). The correlation was moderate for work-related "hands above shoulder level" (rs = 0.63), and "hands below knee level (trunk flexion)" (rs = 0.66). The correlation was lower for leisure time activities such as "domestic work" (r = 0.55), "time for own activities" (r = 0.39), and "sitting during leisure time" (r = 0.38). Subjects seeking care for low back or neck/shoulder disorder estimated equally correctly or not, as had the referents. However, non-differential misclassification was present in all questions, which will attenuate observed estimates of the relative risk. CONCLUSIONS: Even though interview data are preferable, questionnaire data may be useful for assessing well-defined work tasks and for "sitting at work."
OBJECTIVES: The aim of this case referent study was to investigate the relation between physical workload and osteoarthrosis of the hip in women. METHODS: The study base comprised all women of ages 50-70 years, living in five counties and four towns in Sweden 1991-1994. Cases (n = 230), who had undergone total hip replacement for primary osteoarthrosis of the hip were identified by means of the Swedish National Register of Total Hip Replacements, and the referents (n = 273) were women without hip problems randomly selected from the study base. All women were interviewed about state of health, smoking habits, occupational history, work in the home, sports activities, etc. Each subject's history of occupational work and work in the home up to the age of 50 was divided into periods within each of which the work tasks were similar, and a questionnaire for each such period was filled in by the participants. On the basis of information given by the referents, the women were classified as having had low, medium, and high exposure to different factors. Relative risks (RRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated. RESULTS: Physically demanding tasks at work and in the home were associated with increased RRs of osteoarthrosis of the hip in those with high exposure compared with the low exposure group. A RR in the range of 2 or higher was found for those who frequently jumped or moved between different levels (RR = 2.1, CI 1.9, 4.2), who frequently climbed stairs (RR = 2.1, CI 1.2, 3.6), and who had physically demanding tasks outside occupational life (RR = 2.3, CI 1.5, 3.6). The highest RR (RR = 4.3, CI 1.7, 11.0) was found for those exposed to high physical loads both at work and during sports activities. CONCLUSION: High physical loads at work and in the home up to the age of 50 seem to be risk factors for development of severe osteoarthrosis of the hip in women.
OBJECTIVES: To study associations between long term and short term exposure to different work environmental conditions and the incidence of neck or shoulder pain. The results were obtained as part of the MUSIC-Norrtälje study, which is a population based case-control study conducted in Sweden in 1993-7. METHODS: The cases were people from the study base who sought medical care or treatment for neck or shoulder pain. Information on physical and psychosocial conditions in the work environment, currently and 5 years ago, and lifestyle factors, was obtained by self administered questionnaires from 310 cases and 1277 randomly selected referents. RESULTS: Associations between both physical and psychosocial exposures in the work environment and seeking care for neck or shoulder pain were found. The risk patterns differed for the sexes, and risk ratios exceeding 1.5 were more often found among women than among men. Generally, subjects who had experienced a recent increase of exposure were more likely (relative risk (RR) 2.1-3.7) to seek care than those who had been exposed long term (RR 1.5-1.8). Among women, an increased amount of visual display terminal (VDT) work, work above shoulder level, and reduced opportunities to acquire new knowledge, and among men, an increased amount of seated work were associated with neck or shoulder pain. This might indicate short induction periods for neck or shoulder pain for these exposures. However, for repetitive work with the hands and hindrance at work among women, and possibly also local vibrations among men, the induction periods seem to be longer. Interactive effects between factors, both at work and in the family, were found, but only among women. CONCLUSIONS: Associations between some exposures in the work environment and seeking care for neck or shoulder pain were found. The high RRs for short term exposure might indicate that for many factors the induction period for neck or shoulder pain is short.