Pain in the body - Pain in the soul. Activity-limiting pain and mental ill health - identification of modifiable factors that affect risk and prognosis.

Long-term activity-limiting pain in the back and neck, and mental ill health - identification of modifiable factors that affect risk and prognosis.


Back and neck pain are very common causes of sick leave, and a significant source of reduced activity in workers as well as in the general population, especially in women, and comorbidity with mental illness is common, especially in women. Such co-morbidity affects negatively the chance to recover. Globally, back pain is the most common, and neck pain is the fourth most common reason for years lived with disabilities (YLDs). Nevertheless, factors of importance for risk and prognosis are poorly studied.


To increase the knowledge of long-term activity-limiting pain in the neck/back with or without simultaneous mental illness. Specific aims are to study the importance of modifiable work and lifestyle factors such as physical stress at work, work-related psychosocial environment, smoking, physical activity, alcohol consumption and diet, in the transition from occasional neck / back problems into long-term activity-limiting pain and for persons with long-term activity-limiting neck/back pain to recover.


Longitudinal analyses based on data from the Stockholm Public Health Cohort in which approximately 100,000 individuals (18–84 years) were followed with repeated measurements from 2002 to 2014, and data from two cohorts of patients (n = 1620, 18–70 years) who participated in two of our randomised controlled trials, each with a 12-month follow-up period.


The project has good feasibility to identifying and improving knowledge about important modifiable factors that affect the development of, and recovery from, long-term and activity-limiting pain in the back and neck. In addition, the project is expected to provide important knowledge of the importance of comorbidity with mental illness for such disorders. These results may then be used in primary and secondary prevention for these disorders at workplaces.

Research Principle

Karolinska Institutet


AFA Insurances


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Eva E. Skillgate

Visiting Professor
Content reviewer:
Anna Frantz