Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

MS in Public Health (M.S.P.H.)

Degree Granting Department

Public Health

Major Professor

Thomas E. Bernard, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Thomas Truncale, D.O.

Committee Member

Alfred Mbah, Ph.D.


Treatment Seeking, Symptom Severity, Provider, Chronic Disease



The prevalence of work-related musculoskeletal disorders is very common. The main objective of the study was to identify any association between the severity of musculoskeletal symptoms and treatment choice by workers in automobile manufacturing plants.


A cross-sectional study of 1017 production workers in six automobile manufacturing plants was performed. The study included the structured interviews to determine symptoms, preexisting personal risk factors, treatment choices (health care provider or no treatment sought), job strain, and job satisfaction. Nordic style questionnaire for symptoms, Karasek’s Demand Control Model and three job satisfaction questions were used to assign symptom severity, job strain, and job satisfaction, respectively. The case definition was that the person sought treatment from plant clinic or personal health care provider. The independent variables were symptom severity (2 levels), job strain (2 levels), job satisfaction (3 levels). The logistic analysis was used for data analysis.


The Whole Body symptoms severity score was taken as the highest symptoms severity for any body region. Those with High symptoms were more likely to seek treatment than those with Low symptoms, OR=2.3 (1.23-4.27, 95%CI). There was no effect associated with job strain and job satisfaction. Those with osteoarthritis, neurological disorders and hypertension sought more treatment, OR= 3.32 (1.55-7.11, 95%CI), OR=30.5 (5.37-173, 95%CI) and OR=2.97 (1.19-7.44, 95%CI). Sex was significant, where women were more likely to seek treatment than men, OR=2.3 (1.33-3.07, 95%CI). There were no significant findings for BMI, diabetes, rheumatologic disorder, thyroid problems, and smoking.


The study found an association between the severity of the symptoms for a musculoskeletal disorder and the decision to seek treatment from a health care provider (either plant clinic or private provider). Participants with osteoarthritis, neurological disease and hypertension were also more likely to seek treatment more than those without the conditions. Women were more likely to seek treatment than men.