Aim: To investigate the prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) among rural Australian nursing students and compare the results with other international studies.
Method and analysis: A self-reporting questionnaire adapted from previous research, was administered to 260 students from all three grades of a major nursing school in regional north Queensland, Australia.
Results: A high proportion of students reported an MSD at some body site (80.0%), with low back pain being the most common condition (59.2%). This was followed by MSD of the neck (34.6%), knee (25.0%), shoulder (23.8%), feet (16.5%), wrist (12.7%) and legs (11.9%). MSD of the shoulder was slightly more common among males when compared to females (39.3% vs 22.0%, P = 0.0424). Previous paid employment as a nurse or nursing assistant was found to increase the risk of upper arm MSD by a factor of 10.8 (odds ratio 10.8, 95% confidence interval 1.9-205.8, P = 0.0276).
Conclusion: Overall, this investigation suggests that MSD is more frequent among rural Australian nursing students, when compared to their counterparts around the world. Their high rate of MSD is also comparable to that reported by hospital nurses in other countries.