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Does the threshold for reporting musculoskeletal pain or the probability of attributing work-relatedness vary by socioeconomic position or sex?

Objective: To examine the effect of sex and socioeconomic position (SEP) on individuals’ perceptions of pain and its work-relatedness. Methods: We compared self-reported pain in neck–shoulder or arm with clinical diagnoses and workers’ judgments of work-relatedness with physicians’ assessments based on specific criteria, between sexes and high- and low-SEP participants in the Oslo Health Study (n = 217). Results: Clinical diagnoses were more frequent in low-SEP subjects than high-SEP subjects with pain and generally higher in women than in men. Pain attributed to work was more frequently assessed as work-related by the physicians in low-SEP subjects than high-SEP subjects and in men than in women of low SEP. Conclusions: The threshold for reporting pain seemed higher in lowSEP subjects and among women. Physicians were more likely to agree with low-SEP workers about work-relatedness.

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine 55(8): 901–909
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