Upper body musculoskeletal disorders among Australian occupational therapy students

Smith, Derek, Leggat, Peter, & Clark, Michele J. (2006) Upper body musculoskeletal disorders among Australian occupational therapy students. The British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 69(8), pp. 365-372.

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Although upper body musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) represent an increasingly important issue for university students, few if any studies have targeted the occupational therapy faculty. Given this dearth of information, it was considered necessary to investigate a cross-section of Australian occupational therapy students by means of an established questionnaire survey. Completed replies were obtained from 95.7%, 100% and 97.7% (n = 44, 55 and 48) of students in the first, second and fourth years of a large occupational therapy school in northern Queensland, Australia.----------

The 12-month period prevalence of MSDs was as follows: neck (67.4%), shoulder (46.3%) and upper back (39.5%). Three-quarters of all students (75.5%) reported an MSD occurring in at least one of these body regions. Over half (56.5%) reported an MSD over 2 days' duration in the past year. Almost 40% (39.5%) reported an MSD that had affected their daily life, while one-quarter (25.2%) needed some type of treatment.----------

Logistic regression indicated that students aged over 21 years were almost four times more likely to report shoulder-related MSD (OR 3.7, 95%CI: 1.4-10.2). Year of study in the occupational therapy course was another important MSD correlate, with adjusted odds ratios ranging from 3.3 at the upper back (OR 3.3, 95%CI: 1.2-9.6) to 10.9 at the neck (OR 10.9, 95%CI: 3.2-43.8). Computer usage also incurred a certain degree of risk, with students who spent over 5 hours per week on the computer having an increased risk of MSD at the neck (OR 5.0, 95%CI: 1.3-21.5) and shoulder (OR 4.7, 95%CI: 1.4-18.3).----------

Overall, this study suggests that Australian occupational therapy students have a large burden from MSDs in the upper body region, even more so than other student groups and some working populations. Since the distribution of MSD risk is not uniform among them, interventions to help reduce these conditions need to be carefully targeted. Further longitudinal investigations would also be useful in determining the mechanisms and contributory factors for MSDs among this unique student population.

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ID Code: 27141
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
ISSN: 0308-0226
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > CLINICAL SCIENCES (110300)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Public Health & Social Work
Deposited On: 11 Jul 2010 23:27
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 13:54

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