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Prevalence and risk factors associated with musculoskeletal pain among KwaZulu-Natal public sector oral health workers, 2016.

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Musculoskeletal pain (MSP) is a public health concern that affects millions of people in developed and developing countries. In 2015, MSP was ranked among the top ten leading causes of years of healthy life lost due to disability globally. In addition, the consequences of MSP include a wide range of negative effects such as absenteeism, increased work restriction and reduced productivity. Musculoskeletal pain is a major threat in the workplace among oral health workers (OHW). Studies that have been identified from South Africa focus mainly on OHW in the private sector. It remains unclear what the prevalence and risk factors of MSP are among OHW in the public sector. Aim: To determine the prevalence and risk factors associated with musculoskeletal pain among oral health workers in public health facilities in KwaZulu-Natal. Methods An observational, cross-sectional study with an analytical component was implemented. Self-administered questionnaires were utilized to determine the risk factors among dentists, dentist (specialists), dental therapists, oral hygienists, and dental assistants employed in the public sector in KwaZulu-Natal. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used to analyse data. Alpha level was set at p<0.05. Results A total of 266 questionnaires were analysed (response rate 83%). The prevalence of current MSP among OHW was 50.9% and the chronic prevalence of MSP reported for the previous 12 months was 60.6%. A higher prevalence of current (47.2%) and chronic (46.9%) MSP was reported among dentists when compared with dentist (specialists), dental therapists, oral hygienists, and dental assistants. The most common sites for MSP were the lower back, neck, and shoulder. Occupational, environmental, and psychological factors were strongly associated with MSP. Conclusion MSP is an occupational hazard for OHW. There is a need for educational programs and adoption of strategies to reduce occupational injuries. Key words: Musculoskeletal pain, prevalence, work-related, oral health workers, risk factors, dentist, dental therapist, oral hygienist.


Master of Medical Science in Public Health Medicine. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban 2017.