Musculoskeletal SIG

SIG leaders

List of Investigators


  • Dr Amity Campbell, Curtin University
  • Professor Anne Smith, Curtin University
  • Professor Leon Straker, Curtin University
  • Dr Ashleigh Thornton, University of Western Australia
  • Professor Ben Wand, Notre Dame University
  • Dr William Gibson, Notre Dame University
  • Professor Bruce Walker, Murdoch University
  • Dr Jodi Cochrane Wilkie, Edith Cowan University


  • Dr Andrew Claus, The University of Queensland
  • Dr Andrew Teichtahl, Alfred Hospital
  • Ms Ashton Curry-Hyde, University of NSW
  • Dr Christopher Williams, University of Newcastle
  • Professor Flavia Cicuttini, Monash University
  • Assoc/Professor G David Champion, Sydney Children’s Hospital
  • Professor Martha Hickey, The Royal Women’s Hospital
  • Dr Steven Kamper, University of Sydney
  • Ms Theresa Donnelly, Sydney Children’s Hospital
  • Dr Yuanyuan Wang, Monash University


  • Professor Jan Sture Skouen, University of Bergen, Norway
  • Professor Jaro Karpinnen, University of Oulu, Finland
  • Dr Karina Allen, Maudsley NHS, UK
  • Dr Markus Paananen, University of Oulu, Finland
  • Ms Natasja Lammars, Groningen University, The Netherlands
  • Dr Pieter Coenen, VU Medical Centre, the Netherlands

Overview of current/recent SIG activity

Recent and current research on musculoskeletal topics using Raine Study data has been diverse:

  • There have been varied papers on spinal pain, including trajectories of low back pain across adolescence, the impacts of back pain and its relationship to posture.
  • Similarly, there have been a number of papers on pain and its relationship to work productivity and mental health conditions.
  • More broadly in pain, there have been papers looking a pain sensitivity and its health correlates and antecedents.

Overview of the current data resources available in the SIG area

The musculoskeletal SIG has access to diverse measures of pain, pain sensitivity, pain-related activity limitation, posture, strength and pain-related cognitions:

Generation 1

  • Hip and knee pain at 26 yrs
  • Hip and knee pain impact at 26 yrs
  • Neck and shoulder pain at 26 yrs
  • Neck and shoulder pain impact at 26 yrs
  • Low back pain at 26 yrs
  • Low back pain impact at 26 yrs
  • Pressure pain thresholds at 26 yrs
  • Cold pain thresholds at 26 yrs

Generation 2

  • Sagittal spinal posture at 16,17 yrs
  • Back pain muscle endurance at 14,17,22 yrs
  • Squat muscle endurance at 17, 22 yrs
  • Arm and leg pain at 14 yrs
  • Hip and knee pain at 27 yrs
  • Hip and knee pain impact at 27 yrs
  • Neck and shoulder pain impact at 14, 17, 20, 22, 27 yrs
  • Back pain at 14 yrs
  • Low back pain at 17, 20, 22, 27 yrs
  • Low back pain impact at 17, 20, 22, 27 yrs
  • Mid back pain at 17 yrs
  • Mid back pain impact at 17 yrs
  • Back pain beliefs at 17, 22 yrs
  • Orebro Musculoskeletal Pain Questionnaire at 22 yrs
  • Pressure pain thresholds at 22 yrs
  • Cold pain thresholds at 22 yrs
  • Motor control (parent or clinician assessed) at 1, 2, 3 yrs
  • MAND tasks at 10, 14 yrs

Outline of SIG plans for next 5 years

  • Extension of data collection about hip and knee.

Brief list of potential student/early career researcher projects

Please contact the Musculoskeletal  SIG Leaders if you are interested in a research project incorporating Musculoskeletal data and they will coordinate whom to contact within the group.

  • Potential PhD Project: Pain and sleep in the Raine Study – Pain and sleep are related in a bidirectional manner. To date, pain studies of the Raine Study cohort have used questionnaires to measurement sleep. However, at the Gen2_22 yr and Gen1_26 yr follow-ups, the Raine Study cohort underwent extensive laboratory-based sleep analysis. As a consequence, opportunities exist for a highly-detailed examination of the relationships between sleep and pain.

Top 5-10 key findings (with reference)

  • Low back pain has substantial impact for some individuals at age 17, including missing school and reduced activity participation.  O’Sullivan PB, Beales DJ, Smith AJ, Straker LM. Low back pain in 17 year olds has substantial impact and represents an important public health disorder: a cross-sectional study. BMC Public Health. 2012;12(1):100.
  •  4 distinct trajectories of low back pain and its impact through adolescence to early adulthood have been identified; consistently low, decreasing, increasing, and consistently high.  Coenen P, Smith A, Paananen M, O’Sullivan P, Beales D, Straker L. Trajectories of Low Back Pain from Adolescence to Young Adulthood. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2017;69(3):403-12.
  • Comorbidity of spinal pain and mental ill-health is associated with increased absence from work at 22 years of age, but not reduced productivity while at work.  Beales D, Kyaw-Myint S, Smith A, O’Sullivan P, Pransky G, Linton S, et al. Work Productivity Loss in Young Workers Is Substantial and Is Associated With Spinal Pain and Mental Ill-health Conditions. J Occup Environ Med. 2017;59(3):237-45.
  • Cervical spine posture at 17 is not associated with neck pain or headaches.  Richards KV, Beales DJ, Smith AJ, O’Sullivan PB, Straker LM. Neck Posture Clusters and Their Association with Biopsychosocial Factors and Neck Pain in Australian Adolescents. Phys Ther. 2016;96(10):1576-87.
  • Women with moderate or severe menstrual pain (age 20 and 22) have increased pain sensitivity, with indications of both peripheral and central neurophysiological mechanisms.    Slater H, Paananen M, Smith AJ, O’Sullivan P, Briggs AM, Hickey M, Mountain J, Karppinen J, Beales, D. Heightened cold pain and pressure pain sensitivity in young female adults with moderate-to-severe menstrual pain. Pain. 2015;156(12):2468-78.

List of indicative recent publications

In addition to the above:

  • Coenen P, Straker L, Smith A, O’Sullivan P, Kent P, Harris M, Linton S, Pransky G.  The association of adolescent spinal-pain related absenteeism with early adulthood work absenteeism – six year follow-up data from a population-based cohort.  Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health. 2018 Jun 11. pii: 3744. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Waller R, Smith AJ, O’Sullivan PB, Slater H, Sterling M, McVeigh JA, Straker LM. Pressure and cold pain threshold reference values in a large, young adult, pain-free population. Scandinavian Journal of Pain 13 (2016) 114–122.
  • Hoogwout SJ, Paananen MV, Smith AJ, Beales DJ, O’Sullivan PB, Straker LM, et al. Musculoskeletal pain is associated with restless legs syndrome in young adults. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2015;16:294.
  • Paananen M, O’Sullivan P, Straker L, Beales D, Coenen P, Karppinen J, Pennel C, Smith A. A low cortisol response to stress is associated with musculoskeletal pain combined with increased pain sensitivity in young adults: a longitudinal cohort study. Arthritis research & therapy. 2015;17:355.
  • Waller R, Straker L, O’Sullivan P, Sterling M, Smith A. Reliability of pressure pain threshold testing in healthy pain free young adults. Scand J Pain. 2015;9:38-41.
  • Beales D, Smith A, O’Sullivan P, Straker L. Low back pain and comorbidity clusters at 17 years of age: a cross-sectional examination of health related quality of life and specific low back pain impacts   J Adolesc Health. 2012;50:509-516.
  • Smith AJ, O’Sullivan PB, Beales D, Straker L. Back pain beliefs are related to the impact of low back pain in 17-year-olds. Phys Ther. 2012;92(10):1258-67.
  • Smith AJ, O’Sullivan PB, Beales DJ, de Klerk N, Straker LM. Trajectories of childhood body mass index are associated with adolescent sagittal standing posture. Int J Pediatr Obes. 2011;6(2-2):e97-106.

List of current/recent grants

  • Lumbar Pathology – irrelevant finding or target for treatment for low back pain?; Smith A, O’Sullivan P, Wang Y, Karppinen J, Samartzis D, Straker L, Kent P, Hancock M, Beales D, Linton S; National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) $75,000.

Examples of recent media

Other data

The Raine Study has extensive data on genetics, phenotypes, behaviours, environment and social outcome that can be linked with Musculoskeletal data.  For example, there is data on physical activity and sleep and cardiometabolic.