Reducing the Risks for Musculoskeletal Disorders Utilizing Self-Assessment and Photography among Dentists and Dental Hygienists

J Dent Hyg. 2021 Apr;95(2):36-41.


Purpose: Prolonged muscle strain and repetitive movements in the dental workforce may lead to work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs). The purpose of this study was to determine whether feedback involving photography and self-assessments would improve the postures and the accuracy of ergonomic self-assessment among practicing dentists and dental hygienists.Methods: convenience sample of dentists and dental hygienists was used for this randomized control design study (n=50). The Modified-Dental Operator Posture Assessment Instrument (M-DOPAI) was used for ergonomic evaluations of the randomly assigned control and experimental (training) groups over a four-week period. All participants were photographed and completed a M-DOPAI without viewing the photographs or receiving feedback at baseline. Participants in the control group independently completed a M-DOPAI without any additional photographs or feedback during weeks two and three. The experimental group had additional photographs taken and completed a M-DOPAI along with the principal investigator. Mixed-design ANOVAs were used to evaluate improvements in ergonomic scores and the accuracy of ergonomic self-assessments.Results: The training group utilizing photography resulted in improvements in ergonomic scores as compared to the control group. Improvements in the accuracy of ergonomic self-assessments was demonstrated among practicing dental hygienists. All participants strongly agreed that it was important to understand and properly apply ergonomics, and to develop accurate ergonomic self-assessment skills for clinical practice.Conclusions: Improving self-awareness for ergonomics through self-assessment can help reduce the risk of developing WMSDs among practicing dentists and dental hygienists.

Keywords: dental hygienists; dentists; ergonomics; musculoskeletal disorders; postures; self-assessment.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Dental Hygienists
  • Dentists
  • Ergonomics
  • Humans
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases* / prevention & control
  • Occupational Diseases* / prevention & control
  • Photography
  • Self-Assessment