Introduction Work related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) have significant impacts in labour intensive occupational groups. Lifting, moving, transferring and repositioning of patients and long hours spent standing during work makes nurses vulnerable to WMSDs.
Objective To determine the prevalence and risk factors associated with WMSDs among nurses.
Methods We randomly selected 237 nurses attached to National hospital of Sri Lanka and Colombo South Teaching hospitals, and interviewed them using a pre-tested questionnaire ascertaining WMSDs in the past year. Descriptive, χ2 tests and multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed.
Results Results indicated that 21% of nurses had at least one WMSD. Back pain was the most common WMSD occurring in 44% of nurses. The prevalence of other WMSDs included pain in the knee (30%), neck (19%), shoulder (16%) wrist and arm (13%) and elbow (4%). Lower back pain was significantly associated with time pressure (OR=2.14, 95% CL 1.17 to 3.88), job dissatisfaction (OR=6.84, 95% CL 1.46 to 31.94), lifting more than 25 kg during a normal duty shift (OR=2.16, CI 1.26 to 3.7), and unhappiness during the past month (OR=2.74, 95% CI 1.06 to 7.08). Shoulder pain was significantly associated with job dissatisfaction (OR=4.15, 95% CI 1.24 to 13.87) and unhappiness (OR=2.98, 95% CI 1.11 to 7.98).
Conclusion The present study shows that nurses have a high prevalence of MSDs. The predominant ergonomic problem is lower back pain, followed by pain in the knee, neck and shoulder areas. Interventional studies are needed to address WMSDs among nurses, particularly for lower back pain.
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