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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

  • ​SBU rapport: Arbetsmiljöns betydelse för ryggproblem
  • Multi-disciplinary approach rehabilitation in patients with chronic pain
  • Musculoskeletal disorders in primary and secondary health care
  • Expectations related-research
  • Pregnancy-related lumbopelvic pain
  • Musculoskeletal approaches in systemic sclerosis

Research in occupational health

Research in sport medicine

  • Parachute opening shock in skydiving
  • Motor control and movement control tests

Clinimetric research

  • ICF classification of sickness certificates
  • Cross-cultural adaptation and validation of instruments of MSDs

Research group leader


Wim Grooten

Telefon: 08-524 888 61
Enhet: Sektionen för fysioterapi

Group members

Karin Harms-Ringdahl, professor

Lena Nilsson-Wikmar, professor

Carina Boström, docent

Eva Rasmussen-Barr, docent

Björn Äng, docent

Gabriele Biguet, PhD

Marie Halvorsen, PhD

Andreas Monnier, PhD

Christina Olsson, PhD

Graciela Rovner, PhD

Birgitta Widerström, PhD

Anton Westman, postdoc

Roman Kuster, PhD student

Riccardo Lo Martire, PhD student

John Ressman, PhD student

Tom Arild Torstensen, PhD student

Elena Tseli, PhD student

Collaborators and partners

Dalarna University
Linköping University
Medical University in Vienna, Austria
New York University, Langone Medical Center
Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim
Stockholm County Council
Swedish Armed Forces
Swedish Quality Registry for Pain Rehabilitation (SQRP)
Umeå University
University of Oslo
University of Gävle, Forte-Centre
University of Gothenburg
University of Alberta, School of public health
Uppsala University
Zurich university KZTH
Zurich University, Horten Center
Örebro University

Main financial support

AFA Insurance
Armed Forces doctoral programs
Eurospine Task Force Research Grants
KI Fonder
National Health Care Science Postgraduate School
Swedish Research Council
Swedish National Centre for Research in Sports (CIF)
Svenska Läkaresällskapet

Doctoral thesis

Birgitta Widerström, Clinical decision-making in physiotherapy for low back pain in primary health care. Med. Dr. 2017.

Andreas Monnier, Musculoskeletal disorders in the Swedish armed forces marines : back pain epidemiology and clinical tests. Med. Dr. 2016.

Marie Halvorsen, Pain related aspects of neck muscle performance, functioning and psychosocial factors in individuals with cervical radiculopathy. Med. Dr. 2015.

Tony Bohman, Back and neck pain : factors of importance for the prognosis. Med.Dr. 2013.

Mira Müller 2012

Christina Olsson, Lumbopelvic pain during and after pregnancy : Aspects of catastrophizing, fear-avoidance beliefs, physical ability and health-related quality of life. Med. Dr. 2010.

Helena Larsson, Premature discharge from military service : Risk factors and preventive interventions. Med. Dr. 2009.

Eva Rasmussen Barr, Recurrent low-back pain : Exercise intervention and predictive factors, Med.Dr. 2009.

Anton Westman 2009

Björn Äng, Neck pain in air force pilots : on risk factors, neck motor function and an exercise intervention, Med. Dr. 2007.

Wim Grooten, Work and neck/shoulder pain : risk and prognostic factors, Med.Dr. 2006.

Lena Nilsson-Wikmar, Back pain post partum : Clinical and experimental studies, Med. Dr. 2003.

Carina Boström, Shoulder and upper extremity impairments, activity limitation and physiotherapeutic exercise in women with rheumatoid arthritis : a biopsychosocial approach, Med. Dr. 2000.

Karin Harms-Ringdahl, On assessment of shoulder exercise and load-elicited pain in the cervical spine. Biomechanical analysis of load - EMG-methodological studies of pain provoked by extreme positions. Med. Dr.1986.

Selected scientific publications

Measuring Sedentary Behavior by Means of Muscular Activity and Accelerometry.
Kuster R, Huber M, Hirschi S, Siegl W, Baumgartner D, Hagströmer M, et al
Sensors (Basel) 2018 Nov;18(11):

Prognostic Factors for Physical Functioning After Multidisciplinary Rehabilitation in Patients With Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.
Tseli E, Boersma K, Stålnacke B, Enthoven P, Gerdle B, Äng B, et al
Clin J Pain 2019 Feb;35(2):148-173


Mapping a measure of physical ability for persons with long-term musculoskeletal pain to the ICF and ICF Core Sets.
Fresk M, Brodin N, Grooten W, Joseph C, Kiessling A
Eur J Public Health 2019 04;29(2):286-291

Resistance Training for Professional String Musicians: A Prospective Intervention Study.
Lundborg B, Grooten W
Med Probl Perform Art 2018 06;33(2):102-110

How does exercise dose affect patients with long-term osteoarthritis of the knee? A study protocol of a randomised controlled trial in Sweden and Norway: the SWENOR Study.
Torstensen T, Grooten W, Østerås H, Heijne A, Harms-Ringdahl K, Äng B
BMJ Open 2018 05;8(5):e018471

Reliability and validity of a novel Kinect-based software program for measuring posture, balance and side-bending.
Grooten W, Sandberg L, Ressman J, Diamantoglou N, Johansson E, Rasmussen-Barr E
BMC Musculoskelet Disord 2018 01;19(1):6

Strengthening Health Systems for Persons With Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury in South Africa and Sweden: A Protocol for a Longitudinal Study of Processes and Outcomes.
Conradsson D, Rhoda A, Mlenzana N, Nilsson Wikmar L, Wahman K, Hultling C, et al
Front Neurol 2018 ;9():453

Anatomical landmarks of the intra-pelvic side-wall as sources of pain in women with and without pregnancy-related chronic pelvic pain after childbirth: a descriptive study.
Torstensson T, Butler S, Lindgren A, Peterson M, Nilsson-Wikmar L, Eriksson M, et al
BMC Womens Health 2018 03;18(1):54

Clinical assessment and patient-reported outcome measures in low-back pain - a survey among primary health care physiotherapists.
Östhols S, Boström C, Rasmussen-Barr E
Disabil Rehabil 2018 May;():1-9

Inter- and intra-rater reliability for measurement of range of motion in joints included in three hypermobility assessment methods.
Schlager A, Ahlqvist K, Rasmussen-Barr E, Bjelland E, Pingel R, Olsson C, et al
BMC Musculoskelet Disord 2018 Oct;19(1):376

Intra- and inter-rater reliability of movement and palpation tests in patients with neck pain: A systematic review.
Jonsson A, Rasmussen-Barr E
Physiother Theory Pract 2018 Mar;34(3):165-180

Movement control tests for the lumbopelvic complex. Are these tests reliable and valid?
Granström H, Äng B, Rasmussen-Barr E
Physiother Theory Pract 2017 May;33(5):386-397

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










Incidence, aetiology and injury characteristics of traumatic spinal cord injury in Stockholm, Sweden: A prospective, population-based update.
Joseph C, Andersson N, Bjelak S, Giesecke K, Hultling C, Nilsson Wikmar L, et al
J Rehabil Med 2017 May;49(5):431-436

Structured feedback on students' concept maps: the proverbial path to learning?
Joseph C, Conradsson D, Nilsson Wikmar L, Rowe M
BMC Med Educ 2017 May;17(1):90