Author(s): Trinkoff AM
BACKGROUND: Though musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are highly prevalent among registered nurses (RNs), little is known about functional consequences of MSDs in nurses. METHODS: Data on neck, shoulder, and back MSD problems were analyzed in 1,163 working nurses (response rate = 74%). Cases had relevant symptoms lasting at least 1 week or occurring at least monthly in the past year, with at least moderate pain intensity, on average. MSD problems with a frequency, duration, or pain intensity below the level needed to meet the case definition were defined as MSD symptoms. Those who did not meet symptom or case criteria at any body site were defined as asymptomatic. Odds of consequences (e.g., saw a doctor/provider, missed work, reduced/modified work, non-work activities, or recreation, medication use, inadequate sleep) were estimated for cases versus those with symptoms. RESULTS: We found 45.8, 35.1, and 47.0% of nurses had neck, shoulder, or back MSD problems (either at the case or symptom level), respectively, within the past year. Cases were far more likely to have seen a provider versus those with symptoms (adjusted odds ratio, aOR Neck: 4.33, 95% CI: 2.85-6.56; aOR Shoulder: 4.83, 95% CI: 3.00-7.77; aOR Back: 3.69, 95% CI: 2.47-5.49). Cases also were more likely to experience all other functional consequences. CONCLUSIONS: MSD consequences are substantial and suggest opportunities for intervention. Future research will examine the impact of work organization and physical demands on MSDs.