Musculoskeletal disorders among nurses compared with two other occupational groups.Occup Med (Lond). 2014 Dec; 64(8):601-7.OM
There is a high incidence of low back pain (LBP) among nurses. However, few longitudinal studies have investigated musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) at other anatomical sites in nurses.
To describe the cumulative incidence and persistence/recurrence of MSDs of the low back, neck, shoulder, elbow, wrist/hand and knee among New Zealand nurses, to investigate the impact of MSDs on work and functional tasks and to compare findings for nurses with those in postal workers and office workers.
Participants completed a postal survey at baseline and again 1 year later. Information was collected about MSDs in the previous 1 month and 12 months and about the ability to attend work, undertake work duties and perform functional tasks.
Among nurses, the low back was the site with the highest cumulative incidence and highest prevalence of persistent/recurrent, work-disabling and functional-task-disabling pain. Work-disabling LBP was more prevalent among nurses and postal workers than office workers (P < 0.001). Nurses had a substantial prevalence of work-disabling shoulder pain (10%) and functional-task-disabling knee (19%) and wrist/hand pain (16%). With the exception of the elbow, each occupational group had a high prevalence of persistent/recurrent MSDs at all anatomical sites.
LBP continues to have a substantial impact among nurses. Other less commonly considered MSDs, such as shoulder, wrist/hand and knee pain, also made work or functional tasks difficult, suggesting that primary and secondary prevention efforts should consider MSDs at other anatomical sites as well as the low back.