I know that certain physical activities can cause neck pain in the workplace. But what about other, less visible factors? Does the "personality" of the office make a difference?

Absolutely. When it comes to neck pain, the social and psychological characteristics of a workplace may be just as important as the physical demands placed on workers.

Researchers in the Netherlands tried to identify work-related risk factors for neck pain. They followed a group of nearly one thousand workers for three years. The researchers found that people who worked under time pressure were more likely to have neck pain. So were those who didn't feel support from their coworkers. To a lesser extent, people who didn't get to make many decisions at work were also more likely to have neck pain. Other "psychosocial" factors, such as supervisor support and job security, were not linked to neck pain.

Clearly, many factors play a part in neck pain. Both physical and social factors need to be addressed in order to make healthier environments for workers.