A cross-sectional examination of general aches and pains in Scottish working populations : psychosocial and work factors in relation to pain experience and responses
The aim of this study is to gain a comprehensive illustration of the experience of non-serious, non-chronic, general aches and pains, and their associated risk factors in the workplace. A cross-sectional questionnaire survey was carried out in 23 different workplaces in Scotland, inviting individuals to comment on their pain prevalence, pain responses, and pain experience in relation to the Glasgow Pain Questionnaire (GPQ; Thomas et al., 1996). The GPQ provides an index of total pain experience, Pain Frequency, Pain Intensity, Ability to Cope with Pain, Pain Emotion and Pain impact. Although response rates were low (24%), 1888 workers participated in the final study, representing a variety of ten different industry groups. Results showed that the prevalence of general aches and pains was high (70%), for which workers were most likely to either present to a primary care professional (doctor or dentist), or to take a medication that they had close at hand. One third of those suffering for general aches and pains did not act on them at all. Prevalence of non-troublesome general aches and pains varied marginally in relation to risk factors, although an adjusted association was found between the likelihood of pain and some demographic groups (female sex, having a chronic condition). An association was also found between pain prevalence and higher work stress. Adjusted responses to pain differed in relation to pain site and pain cause, although demographic and work variables show little association, after adjustment, with the decision to act on or consult for pain. The more negative the pain experience, the more likely workers were to act or consult, although ‘Ability to Cope with Pain’ showed no association with either acting or consulting. After adjustment for age and gender, the experience of pain was relatively similar across pain sites, although it was more negative in long-term conditions, or where medical intervention was required.