Prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders among dental students: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Heliyon. 2023 Sep 11;9(10):e19956. doi: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2023.e19956. eCollection 2023 Oct.


Objectives: This study aimed to determine the prevalence of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) in dental students and analyze the potential associated risk factors.

Methods: This review was registered in PROSPERO with the number CRD42022349864. We performed a meta-analysis calculating event rates with relative 95% confidence intervals for each body region. Two investigators systematically searched Cochrane, Pubmed, Scopus, and EBSCO databases following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA).

Results: Sixteen studies, with 3761 dental students, were included. The highest 7-day prevalence was in the lower back (27.2%; 95% CI 20-35), neck (27%; 95% CI 19.1-35.8), and upper back (24.2%; 95% CI 17.2-32). Yearly occurrence was mainly in the neck (51%; 95% CI 41-61), followed by shoulders (45.3%; 95% CI 37.6-53.1) and lower back (42%; 95% CI 34.1-50.2) and a fraction of these reported that symptoms in lower-back (15.2%; 95% CI 12.1-18.5), neck (13.9%; 95% CI 10.6-17.5) and shoulders (12.2%; 95% CI 8.7-16.3) affected work or normal activities. Associated contributing factors include female sex, poor posture habits, inadequate ergonomics knowledge, sedentary lifestyle, high physical activity levels, poor quality of life, and smoking. In contrast, engaging in physical exercise has positively impacted mitigating the risk of musculoskeletal disorders.

Conclusions: WMSDs have a high prevalence among dental students, particularly in the cervicothoracic, lumbar, and shoulder regions, having a significant impact since training years. Further research with a multidimensional approach with psychosocial and physical assessments is recommended to understand this issue thoroughly.