Musculoskeletal Injuries in the Workplace: Perceptions of Swedish Police

AuthorNerrolyn Ramstrand,Louise Bæk Larsen
Publication Date01 December 2012
Musculoskeletal injuries in the workplace:
perceptions of Swedish police
Nerrolyn Ramstrandand Louise Bæk Larsen
†(Corresponding author) Department of Rehabilitation, School of Health Sciences,
Jönköping University, P.O. Box 1026, SE-551 11 Jönköping, Sweden.
Tel: +46 (0)36 101 271; email:
‡Department of Rehabilitation, School of Health Sciences, Jönköping University
Foundation, Sweden
Submitted 18 May 2012; accepted 12 August 2012
Keywords: focus group, musculoskeletal injury, police, workplace injury
Nerrolyn Ramstrand
is an associate professor
in the Department of Rehabilitation, Jönköping
University Sweden.
Louise Bæk Larsen
is a doctoral student
researching musculoskeletal injuries in the
Swedish police.
Swedish police off‌icers experience an increased
incidence of musculoskeletal injury, but little is
known of the underlying cause. This paper
explores police off‌icers’ own perceptions of the
most common types of musculoskeletal injury
sustained in the workplace and explores what
police themselves feel are the major causes of such
injuries. A nominal group process technique was
used because of its benef‌its in generating and
prioritising ideas. Six focus group sessions were
conducted involving 33 police from three different
regions in Sweden. Police perceived lower back
pain as the most common musculoskeletal injury
sustained in the workplace. Seven specif‌ic areas
were perceived as contributing to an increased risk
of musculoskeletal injury; duty belt, clothing,
shoes, working hours, safety vests, physical condi-
tion and patrol vehicles.
It has been demonstrated that police
off‌icers, as an occupational group, have a
high incidence of workplace injury and a
high incidence of work absenteeism as a
result of illness (Arbetsmiljöverket, 2009b;
Donnelly, Callaghan, & Durkin, 2009;
Körlin, Alexanderson, & Svedberg, 2009).
Specif‌ic types of injuries sustained by the
police in the working environment are
varied, but those most often reported are
psychosocial problems (Berg, Hem, Lau,
Håseth, & Ekeberg, 2005; Winwood,
Tuckey, Peters, & Dollard, 2009), injuries
resulting from violent altercations (Arbets-
miljöverket, 2009a) and musculoskeletal
injuries (Burton, Tillotson, Symonds,
Burke, & Mathewson, 1996; Gyi & Porter,
1998; Jahani, Motevalian, & Asgari, 2002).
In Sweden, musculoskeletal problems
account for the largest percentage of work-
place illnesses among female police (33 per
cent) and are the third largest cause of illness
in males (19 per cent) (Arbetsmiljöverket,
2009a). A high incidence of musculoskeletal
problems has also been reported in other
countries (Burton et al., 1996; Jahani et al.,
2002; von dem Knesebeck, David, &
Siegrist, 2005).
Few studies have addressed the under-
lying cause of musculoskeletal injury in
police. Gyi and Porter (1998) and Donnelly
et al. (2009) have linked an increased incid-
ence of lower back pain to prolonged
International Journal of Police Science & Management Volume 14 Number 4
Page 334
International Journal of Police
Science and Management,
Vol. 14 No. 4, 2012, pp. 334–342.
DOI: 10.1350/ijps.2012.14.4.293

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