High Prevalence of Musculoskeletal Disorders in At-Risk Physicians

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Twelve percent of those with a work-related musculoskeletal disorder required a leave of absence, practice restriction or modification, or early retirement.
Twelve percent of those with a work-related musculoskeletal disorder required a leave of absence, practice restriction or modification, or early retirement.

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.

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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 [published online December 27, 2017]. JAMA Surg. doi: 10.1001/jamasurg.2017.4947

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