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Juggling a Hospital Job and Family Can Be Painful

THURSDAY Oct. 4, 2012 -- The greater the conflict between their job and family demands, the more likely it is that nurses and other hospital workers will suffer musculoskeletal pain, a new study finds.

Researchers surveyed nearly 1,200 patient care workers at two Boston hospitals. Overall, those who reported high levels of conflict between their work duties and obligations at home were twice as likely to suffer from any kind of musculoskeletal pain in the previous three months.

They were twice as likely to have neck or shoulder pain, and those with the greatest home-work imbalance were nearly three times more likely to have arm pain. There was no link between work-family conflict and lower back pain.

The study was published online Sept. 27 in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.

"Work-family conflict can be distracting and stressful for hospital employees," lead author Seung-Sup Kim, a postdoctoral scientist and professorial lecturer in environmental and occupational health at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, said in a university news release.

"Hospitals that adopt policies to reduce the juggling act might gain a host of benefits, including a more productive workforce, one that is not slowed down by chronic aches and pains," Kim suggested.

Further research is required to confirm a direct link between work-family conflict and an increased risk of musculoskeletal pain. But even these initial findings should convince hospital administrators to assess working conditions in their facilities, the researchers said.

"Hospital employees who don't have to juggle extreme work hours and family obligations might be happier and more productive on the job. And that's a win-win situation that will benefit not just hospitals but also workers, patients -- and family members," Kim noted.

More information

The American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation outlines how to prevent neck pain.

Posted: October 2012


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