Musculoskeletal pain as a predictor for depression in the general working population of Denmark

Tidsskriftartikel - 2021


Aim: This study examines the association between musculoskeletal complaints and subsequent use of antidepressants and/or psychiatric hospital treatment for depressive mood disorders in the Danish labour force. Methods: The study is based on two cohorts. The first cohort is the total labour force in 21 Danish municipalities (n=693,860), where the risk of depression (psychiatric diagnosis or antidepressant treatment) during 2010-2015 was compared between individuals on long-term sickness absence due to musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) and non-sick-listed gainfully employed individuals. The second cohort is a random sample of the Danish labour force (n=9248) who were followed during 2011-2015 to estimate the association between self-rated musculoskeletal pain and depression. All analyses were controlled for age, sex, calendar period and socio-economic status. Results: Compared to non-sick-listed gainfully employed individuals, there was an increased risk of depression in individuals sick-listed with MSD, with rate ratios of 2.39 (99% confidence interval (CI) 2.22-2.58) for individuals with less severe MSD and 4.27 (99% CI 3.98-4.59) for individuals with more severe MSD. There was also an increased risk of depression associated with self-rated pain (yes vs. no), with a rate ratio of 2.17 (99% CI 1.69-2.78). The population attributable fraction of depression from musculoskeletal pain was 0.35 (99% CI 0.24-0.45). Conclusions: The results of the present study indicate that musculoskeletal pain is an important predictor of indicators of depression in the general working population of Denmark.


Hannerz H, Holtermann A, Madsen IEH. Musculoskeletal pain as a predictor for depression in the general working population of Denmark. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health 2021;49(6):589-597.
doi: 10.1177/1403494819875337

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