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28.05.2018 | Original Article | Ausgabe 7/2018 Open Access

International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health 7/2018

Cold sensitivity and associated factors: a nested case–control study performed in Northern Sweden

International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health > Ausgabe 7/2018
Albin Stjernbrandt, Daniel Carlsson, Hans Pettersson, Ingrid Liljelind, Tohr Nilsson, Jens Wahlström



To identify factors associated with the reporting of cold sensitivity, by comparing cases to controls with regard to anthropometry, previous illnesses and injuries, as well as external exposures such as hand–arm vibration (HAV) and ambient cold.


Through a questionnaire responded to by the general population, ages 18–70, living in Northern Sweden (N = 12,627), cold sensitivity cases (N = 502) and matched controls (N = 1004) were identified, and asked to respond to a second questionnaire focusing on different aspects of cold sensitivity as well as individual and external exposure factors suggested to be related to the condition. Conditional logistic regression analyses were performed to determine statistical significance.


In total, 997 out of 1506 study subjects answered the second questionnaire, yielding a response rate of 81.7%. In the multiple conditional logistic regression model, identified associated factors among cold sensitive cases were: frostbite affecting the hands (OR 10.3, 95% CI 5.5–19.3); rheumatic disease (OR 3.1, 95% CI 1.7–5.7); upper extremity nerve injury (OR 2.0, 95% CI 1.3–3.0); migraines (OR 2.4, 95% CI 1.3–4.3); and vascular disease (OR 1.9, 95% CI 1.2–2.9). A body mass index ≥ 25 was inversely related to reporting of cold sensitivity (0.4, 95% CI 0.3–0.6).


Cold sensitivity was associated with both individual and external exposure factors. Being overweight was associated with a lower occurrence of cold sensitivity; and among the acquired conditions, both cold injuries, rheumatic diseases, nerve injuries, migraines and vascular diseases were associated with the reporting of cold sensitivity.

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