Work-related musculoskeletal disorders among health care professionals: A cross-sectional assessment of risk factors in a tertiary hospital, India
Background:Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) are responsible for morbidity in many working populations. Apart from lowering the quality of workers’ life and reducing the productivity, WMSDs are the most expensive form of work disability, attributing to about 40% of all costs toward the treatment of work-related injuries. WMSDs are considered to be multifactorials that are caused due to the interactions between various risk factors, which result in conditions that vary across different occupations. Although health care profession is known to be at a high risk for WMSDs, it is one of the least-studied occupations. Most of the previous studies on WMSDs among health care workers were limited to any one of the professional groups such as nurses, physical therapists, dentists, and others. Hence this study was aimed at looking into the WMSDs affecting five different health care professionals working in a tertiary care hospital. It compared the prevalence and distribution of WMSDs among the five groups, evaluated the multiple risk factors that contribute to the development of WMSDs, and identified the high-risk group.Materials and Methods:It was a cross-sectional study conducted among dentists, laboratory technicians, nurses, physicians, and physiotherapists of various clinical departments in a tertiary care hospital in Chennai, India, from January to June 2013. Face-to-face interviews as well as observational analysis of various tasks were employed. Different combinations of validated and standardized questionnaires were used for collecting different types of data.Results:A high proportion of health care professionals reported WMSDs at one or the other body region, lower back being the most commonly affected area. Working in the same position for long periods, working in awkward or cramped positions and handling an excessive number of patients or samples in one day were found to be the most commonly reported job risk factor that contributed to the development of WMSDs, in this study.Conclusion:Among all the health care professionals assessed in this study, nurses were found to be at the highest risk, whereas physicians were at the lowest risk. A longitudinal study using quantitative analytical tools may give a more accurate estimate of WMSDs and job risk factors, which would pave way for making more precise recommendations to eliminate the risk factors and thereby prevent WMSDs.