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Musculoskeletal disorders in New Zealand nurses: incidence, persistence/recurrence and impact on work and functional tasks
  1. H Harcombe1,
  2. D McBride1,
  3. P Herbison1,
  4. S Derrett2
  1. 1Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, New Zealand
  2. 2Injury Prevention Research Unit, Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, New Zealand

    Abstract

    Background Few prospective studies have investigated musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) at a range of anatomical sites in nurses.

    Aims To determine the cumulative incidence and persistence or recurrence of MSDs of the low back, neck, shoulder, elbow, wrist/hand and knee in a cohort of New Zealand nurses and to determine the prevalence of MSDs affecting work and functional tasks.

    Methods Nurses (n=280) were randomly selected from the Nursing Council database and invited to participate in a postal survey at baseline and 12 months later. MSDs were identified based on self-reported pain at the anatomical site. MSDs affecting work involved either time off work or modified duties. Functional tasks were assessed at site-specific level.

    Results The 12 month cumulative incidence of MSDs was highest for low back (35%), followed by neck (31%), shoulder (25%), wrist/hand (18%), knee (17%) and elbow (11%) pain. Depending on the anatomical site, 45–76% of MSDs were persistent or recurrent. The 1-month prevalence of MSDs affecting functional tasks was 14–20% for shoulder, wrist/hand, knee and low back pain. The 12-month prevalence of MSDs affecting work was highest for low back pain (20%) followed by shoulder pain (10%).

    Significance To reduce MSDs among nurses attention appears warranted at a wider range of sites than the low back alone.

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