Higher risk of musculoskeletal disorders in some physicians

January 3, 2018

(HealthDay)—The prevalence of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) appears to be high for at-risk physicians, according to a review published online Dec. 27 in JAMA Surgery.

Sherise Epstein, M.P.H., from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to estimate the prevalence of work-related MSDs among at-risk physicians (surgeons and interventionalists). Data were analyzed from 21 articles involving 5,828 physicians.

The researchers found that the pooled crude prevalence estimates of the most common work-related MSDs were degenerative cervical spine , rotator cuff pathology, degenerative lumbar spine disease, and in 17, 18, 19, and 9 percent, respectively. The prevalence of degenerative cervical spine disease and degenerative lumbar disease increased by 18.3 and 27 percent, respectively, from 1997 to 2015. For pain, the pooled prevalence estimates varied from 35 to 60 percent and differed by instrument of assessment. Twelve percent of those with a work-related MSD required a leave of absence, practice restriction or modification, or early retirement. For all crude analyses, heterogeneity was considerable, but it was lower for sensitivity analyses. A gross lack of awareness and an unmet need for ergonomics education was described by 12 at-risk specialties.

"Further research is needed to develop and validate an evidence-based applied ergonomics program aimed at preventing these disorders in this population," the authors write.

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