The prevalence and risk of musculoskeletal disorders among dental technicians in South Africa
Adetiba, Joy Nwaogboko
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Introduction Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are classified as occupational disease. They are described as disorders that affect the musculoskeletal system, and affect the health, productivity and careers of the working population. Dental technicians are at risk of MSDs as much as other members of the dental professionals as a result of their daily activities which involves manual work or they could be labour intensive. The risk factors for MSDs among dental professionals are multifactorial. Problem Statement There are currently no established statistics on the prevalence and risk of musculoskeletal disorders among dental technicians in South Africa. Purpose The purpose of the study was to determine the prevalence and risk of MSDs among dental technicians in South Africa. Research Method A quantitative research approach using a cross sectional correlational survey design was adopted for this study. Using a purposive sampling, the data base of all the dental technicians was obtained from the South African Dental Technician Council (SADTC) and those with valid e-mail addresses and telephone numbers were invited to participate in the study. A modified Nordic musculoskeletal questionnaire was used to collect data, 79 technicians responded with only 72 valid questionnaires available for analysis. Results The twelve month prevalence rate of MSDs among dental technicians in South Africa is 90%. MSDs was reported in all body parts and across all ages and genders. The prevalence for neck, hand/wrist, upper back and low back pain were the highest, having the same prevalence rate of 68.1%. The risk factors for MSDs in at least one body part that were identified in this study are age, prolonged standing and vibration. There was no significant relationship between gender, alcohol intake, smoking, having children and MSDs in any body part. However, a relationship exists between age and MSDs in the wrist/hand, standing and elbow pain, vibration and lower back symptoms. Conclusion The study showed that the prevalence of musculoskeletal disorder is high (90%) among dental technicians in South Africa. The prevalence of MSD is not age or gender related. However, some affected body parts were directly linked to age, standing and vibration. More research needs to be done on the ergonomics and workplace in order to address the high incidence of MSDs.