Musculoskeletal pain trajectories of employees working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic

Jodi Oakman, Subas Neupane, Saila Kyrönlahti, Clas-Håkan Nygård, Katrina Lambert

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Objectives: In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated a rapid public health response which included mandatory working from home (WFH) for many employees. This study aimed to identify different trajectories of multisite musculoskeletal pain (MSP) amongst employees WFH during the COVID-19 pandemic and examined the influence of work and non-work factors. Methods: Data from 488 participants (113 males, 372 females and 3 other) involved in the Employees Working from Home (EWFH) study, collected in October 2020, April and November 2021 were analysed. Age was categorised as 18–35 years (n = 121), 36–55 years (n = 289) and 56 years and over (n = 78). Growth Mixture Modelling (GMM) was used to identify latent classes with different growth trajectories of MSP. Age, gender, working hours, domestic living arrangements, workstation comfort and location, and psychosocial working conditions were considered predictors of MSP. Multivariate multinomial logistic regression was used to identify work and non-work variables associated with group membership. Results: Four trajectories of MSP emerged: high stable (36.5%), mid-decrease (29.7%), low stable (22.3%) and rapid increase (11.5%). Decreased workstation comfort (OR 1.98, CI 1.02, 3.85), quantitative demands (OR 1.68, CI 1.09, 2.58), and influence over work (OR 0.78, CI 0.54, 0.98) was associated with being in the high stable trajectory group compared to low stable. Workstation location (OR 3.86, CI 1.19, 12.52) and quantitative work demands (OR 1.44, CI 1.01, 2.47) was associated with the rapid increase group. Conclusions: Findings from this study offer insights into considerations for reducing MSP in employees WFH. Key considerations include the need for a dedicated workstation, attention to workstation comfort, quantitative work demands, and ensuring employees have influence over their work.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2022
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • COVID-19
  • Influence
  • Musculoskeletal pain
  • Quantitative demands
  • Trajectory analysis
  • Working at home
  • Workstation

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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