Predictors of work-related musculoskeletal disorders among dental hygienists

Int J Dent Hyg. 2012 Nov;10(4):265-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1601-5037.2011.00536.x. Epub 2011 Nov 14.


Objectives: Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) have been recognized as a considerable problem for the dental hygiene profession, with the majority of professionals reporting musculoskeletal pain. The aim of this study was to investigate which risk factors may help predict MSD among Australian dental hygienists.

Methods: A modified version of the Standardised Nordic questionnaire was distributed to registered hygienists throughout Australia.

Results: Logistic regression analysis revealed a variety of work-related and psychosocial factors that correlate with reported MSD, including scaling tasks, type of practice and work interference in home life. Statistical predictors for non-reporting of MSD included wearing loupes, ergonomics education and wage satisfaction. Concerning is the impact on the profession, with an association between MSD and hygienists considering reducing working hours or even alternate careers.

Conclusions: In general, it appears as though the causes of MSD among dental hygienists may be multifactorial, as may be the solutions to this problem. Further research is required to objectively examine whether controllable variables can be implemented as preventive strategies or interventions for MSD.

MeSH terms

  • Arthralgia / etiology
  • Back Pain / etiology
  • Career Choice
  • Dental Hygienists*
  • Dental Scaling / adverse effects
  • Ergonomics
  • Family
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Lenses
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / etiology*
  • Neck Pain / etiology
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology*
  • Professional Practice
  • Risk Factors
  • Salaries and Fringe Benefits
  • Shoulder Pain / etiology
  • Time Factors