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Self-reported pain and physical signs for musculoskeletal disorders in the upper body region among Los Angeles garment workers.
Wang PC; Rempel DM; Hurwitz EL; Harrison RJ; Janowitz I; Ritz BR
Work 2009 Sep; 34(1):79-87
Reports of pain and physical exam findings for musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are two common outcome measures independently used to assess work-related MSDs in the scientific literature. How these measures correlate with each other, however, is largely unknown. We recruited 520 sewing machine operators to describe the correlation between subjective self-reported pain and physical findings of MSDs in three upper body regions including the neck/shoulder, elbow/forearm, and hand/wrist. Self-reports of pain and physical findings resulted in different and partly non-overlapping classifications of subjects as MSD cases in our study. Both outcome measures were found to be consistently associated with 'having a medical history of MSDs', 'perceived physical exertion', 'perceived job insecurity' (neck/shoulder), being of older age (arm/forearm), and female gender (arm/forearm and hand/wrist); however, we observed inconsistency for the measures for a number of other job related factors such as 'operating a single machine' and 'number of work hours per week'. Because to date no agreed upon "gold standard" for diagnosing MSDs exists, our findings suggest that research results can be very different when using self-reported measures versus physical exam findings. Also, in order to evaluate the success of an intervention, screening, or surveillance program for work related MSDs, it is important to define clearly which outcome measure best to employ.
Equipment-operators; Ergonomics; Machine-operation; Machine-shop-workers; Motion-studies; Musculoskeletal-system-disorders; Musculoskeletal-system-disorders; Physical-stress; Physiological-disorders; Physiological-factors; Posture; Posture; Author Keywords: Agreement; correlation; physical sign; physical examination; work organization
Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1772
Issue of Publication
University of California - Los Angeles
Page last reviewed: July 30, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division