Work characteristics and upper extremity disorders in female dental health workers

J Occup Health. 2006 May;48(3):192-7. doi: 10.1539/joh.48.192.


Many dental health workers suffer from musculoskeletal disorders in the upper extremities. In addition to ergonomic factors, psychosocial work characteristics have been linked to musculoskeletal disorders. The present cross-sectional study aimed at investigating how musculoskeletal disorders in the upper extremities (UED) and occupational position are related to work characteristics and general health problems in female dental health workers. Questionnaire data from dentists, dental hygienists and dental nurses (N=945) showed that 81% reported UED. Multivariate analysis of variance showed that dentists reported the highest levels of physical load and fatigue whereas dental nurses reported the lowest levels of influence at work. Irrespective of position, those with UED considered their physical and psychosocial work environment and their own health to be significantly poorer than did those without UED. A hierarchical multiple regression showed that the physical load of dentistry was most strongly related to UED. Despite improvements to the ergonomics and physical work environment of dentistry, it is concluded that female dental health workers are still at high risk of developing UED.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dental Assistants* / psychology
  • Dental Hygienists* / psychology
  • Dentists* / psychology
  • Ergonomics*
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / etiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden
  • Upper Extremity / pathology
  • Workplace / psychology