One professional group at risk for developing pain and disability are registered nurses (RNs) who work in hospital settings, and who are involved in patient care or hold administrative positions. These nurses are subject to physical, psychological and psychosocial demands [1–5], and Hignett reported that more frequent patient handling appears to be related to increased complaints of musculoskeletal pain (MSP) . Such complaints also negatively affect several domains in individuals' daily life [7–9]. As a result, many MSP sufferers will be hindered in their everyday life, unable to do things they like or prefer to do. Thus, individual life values may be challenged when performance of activities or social interaction is hindered .
Values have been defined as "a higher order concept thought to provide a structure for organising attitudes"  p174 where both values and attitudes often are measured differently. Hyde and Weathington studied possible linkages between personal values and attitudes in the work sphere. They noticed that these values do play a role in people's work according to the fact that these values affect our attitudes, commitment levels and intentions at work .
Personal life values are related to an individual's overall value system . These values have been described as a "person's stable, internalized beliefs about how he or she should behave and have the ability to predict how a person will perceive and evaluate environmental stimuli"  p 30. Personal life values incorporate sub-domains in which general life values are related to both work and family domains [13, 14]. When the individual's own ideas about how to give mutual priority to these areas are not in accordance with reality, this conflict per se is of importance for general dissatisfaction with life, i.e. in the home and work domains .
Previous findings suggest that the relative importance of life and work values varies . Individual life value domains involving health, happiness, love, and physical and economic security were rated the highest among managers and workers in different organizations. Similarly, the most important work domains were job interest, responsibility, and fair supervision. Data on life values assessments among people with physical disorders show that chronic illness or disability affects most of the person's life domains [15–19]. For instance, the importance of areas related to health and mobility among persons with different disabilities and attainment scores in these areas are reduced . Women with primary breast cancer rated the domain positive relations as more important than did healthy controls . These studies had descriptive and comparative designs and involved different life domains (e.g., harmony, mobility, positive relations and communication); respondents rated their personal evaluation of the importance of and attainment in these areas [15–19].
Research on risk factors for the development of persistent MSP among RNs has revealed a complex interaction between several physical and psychosocial factors [6, 9, 20–23]. A previous longitudinal study among the same RNs as in the present study showed that none of the work-related factors (e.g., satisfaction with work-mates and management) had predictive value for pain, disability or sick leave. Personal and individual factors such as age, self-rated health, and sleep quality predicted disability to some degree, while self-ratings of pain, disability and sick leave were related to the outcome over a three-year period .
In the present study, life values in several domains were used to understand how such reports could be used in the study of work-related physical problems, the aim being to use life values as predictors of pain, disability and sick leave. Both importance and consistency (whether the RNs have lived according to their values) scores were collected concerning each domain (e.g., family, parenting, social relations). One previous study used personal life values related to different life domains (i.e., family, intimate relations, friends, work, health, and growth or learning) as a predictor of pain in a clinical sample . However, these authors used a cross-sectional design in which the sum of the consistency scores was used as the predictor. Results showed that living in accordance with life values was related to less disability, depression and pain-related fear. In the present study, consistency scores were used as predictors for pain, disability and sick leave, while RNs' importance ratings of each life domain were used as descriptive measures.
The specific aims of the study were to: a) describe and compare the importance and consistency of ten life domains among RNs working in a Swedish hospital over a three-year period, and b) predict pain, disability and sick leave on the basis of personal life values at baseline.