Prevalence and occupational risk factors of musculoskeletal diseases and pain among dental professionals in Western countries: A systematic literature review and meta-analysis

PLoS One. 2018 Dec 18;13(12):e0208628. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0208628. eCollection 2018.


Background: This review aimed at examining the prevalence of musculoskeletal diseases and pain among dental professionals in Western countries. Furthermore, possible occupational risk factors were analyzed.

Methods: The literature search was conducted from June to July 2016, with an update in December 2017 using the databases MEDLINE, CINAHL, LIVIVO, Science Direct, PubMed, and Web of Science. The quality assessment was performed with a standardized instrument consisting of 10 items. A meta-analysis was carried out to compute pooled prevalence rates for musculoskeletal diseases and pain.

Results: A total of 41 studies were included in this review; 30 studies met the criteria for the meta-analysis. Prevalence rates of musculoskeletal diseases and pain among dental professionals ranged from 10.8% to 97.9%. The neck was the body region affected most often (58.5%, 95% CI = 46.0-71.0) followed by the lower back (56.4%, 95% CI = 46.1-66.8), the shoulder (43.1%, 95% CI = 30.7-55.5) and the upper back (41.1%, 95% CI = 32.3-49.9). Potential occupational risk factors included an awkward working posture, high number of treated patients, administrative work, vibration, and repetition.

Conclusions: Musculoskeletal diseases and pain are a significant health burden for dental professionals. This study showed high prevalence rates for several body regions. Therefore, suitable interventions for preventing musculoskeletal diseases and pain among dental professionals are needed.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Databases, Factual
  • Dentists / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / pathology
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology
  • Pain / epidemiology*
  • Pain / pathology
  • Posture
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors

Grant support

No special funding was received for this study. However, the Competence Center for Epidemiology and Health Services Research for Healthcare Professionals (CVcare) of the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) receives an unrestricted fund from the Institution for Statutory Accident Insurance and Prevention in the Health and Welfare Services (BGW) on an annual basis to maintain the working group at the UKE. The funder played no role in study design, data collection and analyses, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. The BGW is not responsible for the contents of the present review.