Introduction: Although Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD) represent a common occupational problem, few epidemiological studies have investigated MSD risk factors among Asian nurses, particularly those in Japan.
Method: We administered a modified Japanese-language version of the Standardized Nordic Questionnaire to 1,162 nurses from a large teaching hospital. MSD categories focused on the neck, shoulder, upper back, and lower back regions.
Results: A total of 844 completed questionnaires were analyzed (response rate: 72.6%). The 12-month period-prevalence of MSD at any body site was 85.5%. MSD was most commonly reported at the shoulder (71.9%), followed by the lower back (71.3%), neck (54.7%), and upper back (33.9%). Alcohol consumption, tobacco smoking, and having children were shown to be significant risk factors, with adjusted Odds Ratios of 1.87 (95%CI: 1.17-2.96), 2.45 (95%CI: 1.43-4.35), and 2.53 (95%CI: 1.32-4.91), respectively. Workplace risk factors included manually handling patients (OR: 2.07 to 11.97) and undertaking physically laborious work (OR: 2.09 to 2.76). Nurses reporting pre-menstrual tension were 1.66 and 1.94 times more likely to suffer from lower back and upper back MSD, respectively. High mental pressure was also identified as a significant risk factor for MSD of the neck (OR: 1.53) and shoulder (OR: 2.07).
Impact on industry: The complex nature of MSD risk factors identified during this study suggests that remediation strategies which focus only on manual handling tasks would probably be suboptimal in reducing MSD among nurses. Therefore, to help alleviate their considerable MSD burden, a greater emphasis will need to be placed on job satisfaction, work organization, and occupational stress, as well as the more traditional hazard reduction strategies such as manual handling, work tasks, and other occupational factors.