Background: Previous studies have pointed out that the school lunch workers in Japan are suffering from work-related disorders including finger deformations. The purpose of this study was to investigate the prevalence of self-reported finger deformations and the association with job-related risk factors.
Methods: A cross-sectional questionnaire study of 5,719 subjects (response rate: 81%, 982 men and 4,737 women) was undertaken during September 2003 to February 2004.
Results: Finger deformations were found among 11.7% of the men and 35.6% of the women studied, with significant differences among sex, age and sex-age groups. For both men and women the pattern of finger deformations across the hand was similar for the right and the left hand. For women, the deformations were found in about 10% of the distal interphalangeal joints of all fingers. Based on multiple logistic regression analyses, the factors female sex, age, the number of cooked lunches per cook and cooking activities were independently associated with the prevalence of finger deformations. High prevalence odds ratios were found for those frequently carrying or using tools by hands such as delivering containers, distributing meals, preparing dishes, washing equipment, cutting and stirring foods.
Conclusions: Among the school lunch workers studied, women had a higher prevalence of finger deformations on all joints of both hands. Various cooking tasks were associated with the prevalence of finger deformations. The results suggest that improvements in working conditions are important for preventing work-related disorders such as finger deformations.