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Is prolonged sitting at work associated with the time course of neck–shoulder pain? A prospective study in Danish blue-collar workers
  1. David M Hallman1,
  2. Nidhi Gupta2,
  3. Marina Heiden1,
  4. Svend Erik Mathiassen1,
  5. Mette Korshøj2,
  6. Marie Birk Jørgensen2,
  7. Andreas Holtermann2
  1. 1Department of Occupational and Public Health Sciences, Centre for Musculoskeletal Research, University of Gävle, Gävle, Sweden
  2. 2National Research Centre for the Working Environment, Copenhagen, Denmark
  1. Correspondence to Dr David M Hallman; david.hallman{at}


Objectives This study aimed to determine the extent to which objectively measured sitting time at work is associated with the course of neck–shoulder pain across 1 year in blue-collar workers.

Methods Data were analysed from 625 blue-collar workers in the Danish PHysical ACTivity cohort with Objective measurements (DPHACTO) cohort study (2012–2013). Objective data on sitting time were collected at baseline using accelerometry. Self-reported pain intensity (numeric rating scale 0–10) in the neck–shoulder region was registered for 1 year using repeated text messages (14 in total). Linear mixed models were used to determine the relationship between per cent time in sitting at work and trajectories of neck–shoulder pain, with and without adjustment for demographic, occupational and lifestyle factors, and baseline pain intensity.

Results More sitting time at work was associated with a faster decline in pain intensity over 12 months, as indicated by a statistically significant effect of sitting on pain trajectories in the crude (p=0.020) and fully adjusted models (p=0.027).

Conclusions In blue-collar workers, more sitting time at work was associated with a favourable development of pain intensity over time. The relationship between sitting at work and pain needs further investigation before explicit recommendations and guidelines on sedentary behaviour among blue-collar workers can be developed.

  • Accelerometer
  • Longitudinal studies
  • Musculoskeletal
  • Pain
  • Physical work
  • Sedentary

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  • Contributors DMH contributed to the statistical data analyses and drafting of the manuscript. AH and MBJ contributed to the conception and design of the full DPHACTO study, and data collection. All authors contributed to the conception of this study, interpretation of results, and critical revisions of the manuscript; and they all agreed on its final appearance.

  • Funding The study is partly supported by a grant from the Danish Work Environment Research Fund (04-2014-09).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval The local Ethics Committee in Copenhagen (H-2-2012-011).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement The DPHACTO data set is available on request (contact: AH, email

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