Prevalence and selected risk factors for neck, shoulder and low back pain among primary school teachers in the Central Durban area : a cross-sectional study
Background: Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are a significant and common occupational health concern, consequently impacting work attendance and performance. High prevalence rates of MSDs have been reported amongst school teachers. Studies have linked these higher prevalence rates to typical daily teaching activities including prolonged standing, awkward postures, heavy lifting, bending and repetitive movements. Objectives: To determine the prevalence of neck, shoulder and low back pain among primary school teachers in the Central Durban area; to identify any risk factors associated with neck, shoulder and low back pain; and to establish the relationship, if any, between the prevalence and risk factors of neck, shoulder and low back pain among primary school teachers. Methods: This was a quantitative, descriptive and cross-sectional study, conducted in 12 selected public primary schools within the Central Durban area. Volunteers who met the inclusion criteria (n = 97) were invited to complete self-administered questionnaires. Results: Of the 97 completed questionnaires 83.1 percent (%) reported neck and shoulder pain and 71.0% low back pain. Neck and shoulder pain were significantly associated with a forward-bent head posture (p = 0.001), ethnicity (p = 0.001), and history of a severe trauma/injury (p = 0.006). Similarly, significant associations were noted with regards to medical conditions (p = 0.006), a backward-bent head posture (p = 0.016), lifting of heavy loads (p = 0.045) and treatment for severe injury (p = 0.047). Associations were also noted between low back pain and prolonged standing (p = 0.000), ethnicity (p = 0.008), transportation methods (p = 0.023), medical conditions (p = 0.031) and a history of a severe trauma/injury (p = 0.049). Conclusion: This is a first South African study, to our knowledge that highlights increased prevalence rates for both neck and shoulder pain and low back pain amongst teachers, with a variety of associated risk factors. This draws attention to the urgent need for intervention programs to be implemented to prevent/reduce the development of musculoskeletal pain amongst teachers.