Surgeons at High Risk for Musculoskeletal Disorders

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Increasing risk for work-related musculoskeletal disorders, particularly in procedural specialists.
Increasing risk for work-related musculoskeletal disorders, particularly in procedural specialists.

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

Sherise Epstein, MPH, from the Harvard TH 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 5828 physicians.

The researchers found that the pooled crude prevalence estimates of the most common work-related MSDs were degenerative cervical spine disease, rotator cuff pathology, degenerative lumbar spine disease, and carpal tunnel syndrome in 17, 18, 19, and 9%, respectively. The prevalence of degenerative cervical spine disease and degenerative lumbar spine disease increased by 18.3 and 27%, respectively, from 1997 to 2015. For pain, the pooled prevalence estimates varied from 35 to 60% 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.

Reference

Epstein S, Sparer EH, Tran BN, et al. Prevalence of Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders Among Surgeons and Interventionalists: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Surg. [Epub December 27, 2017] doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2017.4947

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