Musculoskeletal disorders from a biopsychosocial perspective


Research focus

Our research focus is on musculoskeletal pain and clinical interventional advances devoted to improve prevention and patient management. This includes development and evaluation of clinical diagnostics and prevention methods with the aim to improve health and work ability. We currently have three main translational research programs in our group: one that incorporates chronic or recurrent pain conditions in the primary, secondary and tertiary care sector, a second with a focus on occupational health, especially the military community, and a third that concerns sports medicine currently with an emphasis in extreme sports.

Our main programs include several defined research projects with different principal investigators (PI:s). In these projects, we handle a wide range of scientific methods that deal with registry, clinical, empirical and laboratory data, as well as qualitative methods. Our group is interdisciplinary and we work actively to understand and critically evaluate health-related variables from a bio-psycho-social perspective. The long-term goal is to develop and implement updated knowledge into clinical actions to meet the challenge of tomorrow's patients with musculoskeletal pain.

Research programs and projects 

Research on Pain
See latest report from SBU – Swedish Council on Health Technology Assessment where Prof. Karin Harms-Ringdahl participated 

  • Multi-disciplinary rehabilitation in patients with chronic pain
  • Personal empowerment in patients with chronic pain
  • Musculoskeletal disorders in primary health care with the focus on low-back pain
  • Exercise therapy in patients with knee osteoarthritis

Research in occupational health

Research in sport medicine

  • Parachute opening shock in skydiving
  • Movement control tests

Research in performing arts medicine

Research group leader 

Lecturer senior

Eva Rasmussen Barr

Phone: +46-(0)8-524 888 76
Organizational unit: Sektionen för fysioterapi

Associate professor, Eva Rasmussen Barr

Group members Title
Karin Harms-Ringdahl Professor
Lena Nilsson-Wikmar Professor
Wim Grooten Associate professor
Björn Äng Associate professor
Eva Rasmussen-Barr Associate professor
Christina Olsson PhD
Andreas Monnier PhD
Adrienne Levy Berg PhD
Anton Westman Post doctor
Mary Montenegro Post doctor
Graciela Rovner Post doctor
Tom Arild Torstensen PhD-candidate
Gabriele Biguet PhD-candidate
Elena Tseli PhD-candidate
Tina Borg PhD-candidate
Riccardo Lo Martire PhD-candidate
Lisbet Broman Research assistant
John Ressman PhD-cand

Collaborators and partners

  • Dalarna University
  • University of Alberta, School of public health
  • Horten Center, Zurich University, Zurich, Switzerland
  • New York University, Langone Medical Center
  • Sør-Trøndelag University College (HiST)
  • Stockholm County Council
  • Swedish Quality Registry for Pain Rehabilitation - SQRP
  • Swedish Armed Forces                                       
  • Umeå University, Department of Community Medicine and Rehabilitation
  • University of Oslo
  • University of Gävle, Forte-Centre
  • Uppsala University

Main financial support 

  • Swedish Research Council
  • Eurospine Task Force Research Grants
  • AFA Insurance
  • Armed Forces doctoral programs
  • National Health Care Science Postgraduate School
  • Rygginstitutet
  • Swedish National Centre for Research in Sports

Doctoral thesis (in our group)

Members Year

Birgitta Widerström

Andreas Monnier

Marie Halvorsen

Tony Bohman

Mira Müller

Christina Olsson

Helena Larsson

Eva Rasmussen Barr

Anton Westman

Björn Äng

Wim Grooten

Lena Nilsson-Wikmar

Karin Harms-Ringdahl















Selected scientific publications

Construction of a web-based questionnaire for longitudinal investigation of work exposure, musculoskeletal pain and performance impairments in high-performance marine craft populations.
Lo Martire R, de Alwis M, Äng B, Garme K
BMJ Open 2017 Jul;7(7):e016006

Are job strain and sleep disturbances prognostic factors for low-back pain?A cohort study of a general population of working age in Sweden.
Rasmussen-Barr E, Grooten W, Hallqvist J, Holm L, Skillgate E
J Rehabil Med 2017 Jul;49(7):591-597

Neck muscle activity in skydivers during parachute opening shock.
Lo Martire R, Gladh K, Westman A, Lindholm P, Nilsson J, Äng B
Scand J Med Sci Sports 2016 Mar;26(3):307-16

Neck Muscle EMG-Force Relationship and Its Reliability During Isometric Contractions.
Lo Martire R, Gladh K, Westman A, Äng B
Sports Med Open 2017 Dec;3(1):16

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for sciatica.
Rasmussen-Barr E, Held U, Grooten W, Roelofs P, Koes B, van Tulder M, et al
Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2016 Oct;10():CD012382

Psychometric properties of the Swedish version of the Treatment Outcome Satisfaction Questionnaire.
Lo Martire R, Lis A, Skillgate E, Rasmussen-Barr E
Eur Spine J 2017 02;26(2):316-323

Health risk appraisals in Swedish occupational health services.
Grooten W, Müller M, Forsman M, Kjellberg K, Toomingas A, Björn Olov , et al
Work 2016 ;55(4):849-859

Feasibility of the subgroup criteria included in the treatment-strategy-based (TREST) classification system (CS) for patients with non-specific low back pain (NSLBP).
Widerström B, Olofsson N, Boström C, Rasmussen-Barr E
Man Ther 2016 Jun;23():90-7

Developing Leadership in Managers to Facilitate the Implementation of National Guideline Recommendations: A Process Evaluation of Feasibility and Usefulness.
Tistad M, Palmcrantz S, Wallin L, Ehrenberg A, Olsson C, Tomson G, et al
Int J Health Policy Manag 2016 Apr;5(8):477-486

Free Fall Acrobatics to Reduce Neck Loads During Parachute Opening Shock: Evaluation of an Intervention (ACROPOSE).
Westman A, Äng B
BMJ Open Sport Exerc Med 2016 ;2(1):e000108

Validation of a free fall acrobatics intervention protocol to reduce neck loads during parachute opening shock.
Westman A, Äng B
BMJ Open Sport Exerc Med 2015 ;1(1):

Neck Muscle Strain in Air Force Pilots Wearing Night Vision Goggles.
Pousette M, Lo Martire R, Linder J, Kristoffersson M, Äng B
Aerosp Med Hum Perform ;87(11):928-932

Risk factors for back pain in marines; a prospective cohort study.
Monnier A, Djupsjöbacka M, Larsson H, Norman K, Äng B
BMC Musculoskelet Disord 2016 07;17():319

Development and validation of a web-based questionnaire for surveying the health and working conditions of high-performance marine craft populations.
de Alwis M, Lo Martire R, Äng B, Garme K
BMJ Open 2016 06;6(6):e011681

The abdominal drawing-in manoeuvre for detecting activity in the deep abdominal muscles: is this clinical tool reliable and valid?
Kaping K, Äng B, Rasmussen-Barr E
BMJ Open 2015 Dec;5(12):e008711

Musculoskeletal pain and limitations in work ability in Swedish marines: a cross-sectional survey of prevalence and associated factors.
Monnier A, Larsson H, Djupsjöbacka M, Brodin L, Äng B
BMJ Open 2015 Oct;5(10):e007943

[On the effect of pentamine on the uterine contraction].
Govorov D
Farmakol Toksikol ;31(4):457-60

Short- and long-term effects of exercise on neck muscle function in cervical radiculopathy: A randomized clinical trial.
Halvorsen M, Falla D, Gizzi L, Harms-Ringdahl K, Peolsson A, Dedering
J Rehabil Med 2016 Oct;48(8):696-704

Content Validity Index and Intra- and Inter-Rater Reliability of a New Muscle Strength/Endurance Test Battery for Swedish Soldiers.
Larsson H, Tegern M, Monnier A, Skoglund J, Helander C, Persson E, et al
PLoS ONE 2015 ;10(7):e0132185

Dimensions Underlying Measures of Disability, Personal Factors, and Health Status in Cervical Radiculopathy: A Cross-Sectional Study.
Halvorsen M, Kierkegaard M, Harms-Ringdahl K, Peolsson A, Dedering
Medicine (Baltimore) 2015 Jun;94(24):e999 

Influence of the implementation of a comprehensive intervention programme on premature discharge outcomes from military training.
Larsson H, Tegern M, Harms-Ringdahl K
Work 2012 ;42(2):241-51 

Is active sitting as active as we think?
Grooten W, Conradsson D, Äng B, Franzén E
Ergonomics 2013 ;56(8):1304-14 

Effects of eccentric training on hand strength in subjects with lateral epicondylalgia: a randomized-controlled trial.
Söderberg J, Grooten W, Ang B
Scand J Med Sci Sports 2012 Dec;22(6):797-803 

Neck/shoulder exercise for neck pain in air force helicopter pilots: a randomized controlled trial.
Ang B, Monnier A, Harms-Ringdahl K
Spine 2009 Jul;34(16):E544-51 

Inter- and intra-observer reliability of clinical movement-control tests for marines.
Monnier A, Heuer J, Norman K, Äng B
BMC Musculoskelet Disord 2012 Dec;13():263 

Graded exercise for recurrent low-back pain: a randomized, controlled trial with 6-, 12-, and 36-month follow-ups.
Rasmussen-Barr E, Ang B, Arvidsson I, Nilsson-Wikmar L
Spine 2009 Feb;34(3):221-8 

Motor control exercises reduces pain and disability in chronic and recurrent low back pain: a meta-analysis.
Byström M, Rasmussen-Barr E, Grooten W
Spine 2013 Mar;38(6):E350-8 

The effect of ergonomic intervention on neck/shoulder and low back pain.
Grooten W, Mulder M, Wiktorin C
Work 2007 ;28(4):313-23 

Effect of three different physical therapy treatments on pain and activity in pregnant women with pelvic girdle pain: a randomized clinical trial with 3, 6, and 12 months follow-up postpartum.
Nilsson-Wikmar L, Holm K, Oijerstedt R, Harms-Ringdahl K
Spine 2005 Apr;30(8):850-6 

Musculoskeletal pain and related risks in skydivers: a population-based survey.
Nilsson J, Fridén C, Burén V, Westman A, Lindholm P, Ang B
Aviat Space Environ Med 2013 Oct;84(10):1034-40 

Factors predicting clinical outcome 12 and 36 months after an exercise intervention for recurrent low-back pain.
Rasmussen-Barr E, Campello M, Arvidsson I, Nilsson-Wikmar L, Ang B
Disabil Rehabil 2012 ;34(2):136-44