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Work-related musculoskeletal disorders affecting members of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy

Abstract

Objective

To estimate the prevalence of work-related musculoskeletal disorders from a snapshot sample of members of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP); the trade union, educational and professional body for physiotherapists, physiotherapy assistants and physiotherapy students in the UK. The distribution of musculoskeletal disorders against different variables, including age of therapist, years in practice and clinical specialty, was also investigated. We set out to highlight the job tasks that injured physiotherapists associated with their complaint and to identify any preventive strategies that injured physiotherapists adopted to prevent re-injury.

Design

A self-administered questionnaire was posted to a randomly selected sample taken from the membership database of the CSP.

Participants

Ten percent (n=3661) of registered physiotherapists, physiotherapy assistants and physiotherapy students on clinical placement.

Main instrument

Questionnaire based on the Standardised Nordic Questionnaire.

Results

Reported career prevalence of work-related musculoskeletal disorders in members of the CSP was 68%. Previous 12-month prevalence was 58%, and 42% reported musculoskeletal symptoms in the last 12 months that lasted for more than 3 days. The low back was the body area identified by 44% of injured respondents as their most significant injury. Nearly one-third (32%) of injured respondents first experienced their worst injury within 5 years of graduation. A greater number of respondents (59%) were aged 30 years or under when their most serious injury occurred. Injured respondents rated ‘performing the same tasks over and over’, ‘working in the same position for long periods’ and ‘treating a large number of patients in 1 day’ as the three most influential job risk factors contributing to injury.

Conclusions

Younger physiotherapists and newly qualified graduates appear to be most in need of intervention services aimed at reducing injury rates. Official action is undermined by injured physiotherapists seeking informal treatment from colleagues rather than reporting injury to their manager, helping to keep work-related injury a hidden problem. Physiotherapists should be encouraged to report workplace injury, and barriers to official reporting should be identified.

Cite this article

Work-related musculoskeletal disorders affecting members of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy Warren Glover, Alison McGregor, Claire Sullivan, Jan Hague Physiotherapy - September 2005 (Vol. 91, Issue 3, Pages 138-147, DOI: 10.1016/j.physio.2005.06.001)

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