The prevalence of neck pain and associated risk factors among undergraduate students: A large-scale cross-sectional study

Lloyd Long Yu Chan, Arnold Yu Lok Wong (Corresponding Author), Maggie Haitian Wang, Kin Cheung, Dino Samartzis

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Neck pain is a pervasive ailment causing work absenteeism, disabilities, and sleep disturbance among working adults. While the onset of neck pain in many individuals may date back to college-age, little is known regarding the prevalence of neck pain and associated risk factors among undergraduates. The current study aimed to compare the prevalence of neck pain among students in different undergraduate programs and to investigate their risk factors. Methods: Undergraduates from two universities were invited to participate in a self-administered online survey. The survey collected data regarding demographics, previous and the current neck pain symptoms, and potential risk factors (e.g., gender, age, body mass index, study programs, electronic devices usage, study hours, sports participation, and anxiety and depression levels, etc.). Multiple logistic regressions were conducted to identify risk factors for neck pain. Results: A total of 5,195 invitation emails were sent. Of 1,002 respondents, 22.3% reported having current neck pain. Physiotherapy (26.5%) and nursing students (26.1%) had significantly higher prevalence of neck pain as compared to business students (13.2%). Anxiety (odds ratio (OR):1.11, 95%CI:1.07–1.16), concurrent low back pain (OR:3.28, 95%CI:2.15–5.00) and senior years of studies (OR:1.19,95%CI:1.01–1.41) were significantly associated with the presence of neck pain. Taller students (OR:1.02,95%CI:0.99–1.05) and prolonged smartphone usage (OR:1.05,95%CI:0.99–1.12) appeared to be associated with the presence of neck pain. Conclusion: This study not only revealed the high prevalence of neck pain among undergraduates but also identified several modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors for neck pain in this population. Specific prevention strategies should be developed and implemented to reduce the risk of neck pain in vulnerable students.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102934
JournalInternational Journal of Industrial Ergonomics
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


  • Anxiety
  • Body height
  • Low back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Prevalence
  • Risk factors
  • Smartphone
  • Students
  • University students

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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