Relationship of Musculoskeletal Disorder Pain to Patterns of Clinical Care in California Dental Hygienists

J Dent Hyg. 2015 Oct;89(5):305-12.


Purpose: To relate self-reported levels of musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) pain and patterns of clinical care among members of the California Dental Hygienists' Association (CDHA), using a web-based survey.

Methods: The 24-item survey consisted of questions on patterns of clinical care, health habits, experience with MSD pain and demographic information. Recruitment information, including survey link and consent form, was emailed to the CDHA for distribution to its members. Descriptive analysis and cross tabulations were conducted using the online software program Qualtrics™. A Chi-square test determined statistical significant differences between the responses of the no/mild pain and moderate/severe pain groups.

Results: The response rate was 19% (500/2,700). Ninety-six percent of all respondents reported some level of MSD pain, causing nearly 25% of the respondents to miss work. Respondents, who reported moderate/severe pain, treated more patients per day (p=0.007) and on average treated greater numbers of moderate to heavy calculus patients (p=0.017) than those respondents reporting no/mild pain. Forty percent of the respondents in the moderate/severe group treated more than 8 patients per day. A higher percentage of respondents (p=0.000) in the moderate/severe pain group than in the no/mild group reported using proper posture less than 50% of treatment time. Using proper posture more than 50% of treatment time was more frequent in respondents who had practiced more than (p=0.012), compared with less than, 5 years.

Conclusion: Workload and ergonomics are related to MSD pain. Educational programs need to emphasize the importance of these factors in the development and reduction of MSD pain.

Keywords: back pain/etiology; dental hygienists; dental scaling/adverse effect; hand/pathology; musculoskeletal disease/etiology; occupational disease/etiology; pain/epidemiology; prevalence; risk factors.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • California / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dental Hygienists / standards*
  • Dental Hygienists / statistics & numerical data
  • Ergonomics
  • Female
  • Hand / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / etiology
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / physiopathology
  • Musculoskeletal Pain / epidemiology*
  • Musculoskeletal Pain / etiology
  • Musculoskeletal Pain / physiopathology
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology
  • Occupational Diseases / physiopathology
  • Posture
  • Prevalence
  • Professional Practice / standards*
  • Professional Practice / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult