Trends in work-related musculoskeletal disorder reports by year, type, and industrial sector: A capture-recapture analysis


  • Dr. Charles Dillon authored this study in his private capacity.

  • No official support of endorsement by the CDC or the federal government is intended or should be inferred.



Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) are thought to be declining based on Bureau of Labor Statistics survey data, but there is also evidence of MSD under-reporting, raising the possibility of contrary trends. The magnitude of MSD under-reporting over time, and its industry distribution have not been adequately described.


Capture-recapture analysis of 7 years of Connecticut MSD (1995–2001), utilizing Workers' Compensation and physician reporting data was performed.


Only 5.5%–7.9% of MSD cases appear to be reported to Workers Compensation annually. The capture-recapture estimated average annual rate for upper-extremity MSD was 133.1 per 10,000 employed persons, far above BLS rates. By industry, Manufacturing, State Government, and the Finance/Insurance/Real Estate sectors all had significantly higher MSD rates than Wholesale/Retail Trade.


Upper-extremity MSD appears to be significantly under-reported, and rates are not decreasing over time. Capture-recapture methods provide an improved surveillance method for monitoring temporal trends in injury rates. Am. J. Ind. Med. 48:40–49, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.