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Indian Journal of Community Medicine

Influence of psychosocial workplace factors on occurrence of musculoskeletal discomfort in computer operators

Author(s): Bhanderi Dinesh, Choudhary SK, Parmar Lata, Doshi Vikas

Vol. 32, No. 3 (2007-07 - 2007-09)

SHORT ARTICLE

Year : 2007 | Volume : 32 | Issue : 3 | Page : 225-226

Influence of psychosocial workplace factors on occurrence of musculoskeletal discomfort in computer operators

Bhanderi Dinesh, Choudhary SK, Parmar Lata, Doshi Vikas
Pramukh Swami Medical College, Karamsad, Anand, Gujarat, India
Date of Submission 23-Jun-2006

Correspondence Address:
Bhanderi Dinesh
Dept. of Community Medicine, Pramukh Swami Medical College, Karamsad - 388 325, Anand, Gujarat
India

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
How to cite this article:
Bhanderi D, Choudhary SK, Parmar L, Doshi V. Influence of psychosocial workplace factors on occurrence of musculoskeletal discomfort in computer operators. Indian J Community Med 2007;32:225-6
How to cite this URL:
Bhanderi D, Choudhary SK, Parmar L, Doshi V. Influence of psychosocial workplace factors on occurrence of musculoskeletal discomfort in computer operators. Indian J Community Med [serial online] 2007 [cited 2007 Nov 30];32:225-6. Available from: http://www.ijcm.org.in/text.asp?2007/32/3/225/36838

The ever increasing use of computers in various fields has led to rise in musculoskeletal problems related to its operation. Apart from ergonomic design factors, number of psychosocial workplace factors have emerged that may influence the biomechanical load or the reactions to workplace stress. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH, 1997)[1] has outlined five psychosocial factors that are related to back and upper extremity disorders. i.e., job satisfaction, intensified workload, monotonous work, job control and social support. The present article, which is a part of broader cross sectional study done on 419 subjects who work on computer for varying period of time, helps to understand the relationship between various psychosocial workplace factors and occurrence of these problems.

Materials and Methods

The study was conducted in two talukas of Anand district, namely Anand and Petlad from May 2004 to January 2006. The sample size of 400 was calculated considering a prevalence of computer related health problems as 20%, as revealed in a pilot study. Forty was added to this figure assuming 10% nonresponse. Thus 440 was the final sample size.

Establishments and institutes in Anand and Petlad talukas, where computers are extensively used, were enlisted. These included banks, computer training centers and colleges running degree courses in computer applications. After seeking the permission of the heads of these institutes, all the staff and faculty members as well as final year students were enlisted. 440 subjects were selected randomly. 31 did not participated in the study, making the non-response rate 7.0%. Rest of the subjects (n=419) were asked to fill a pre-tested questionnaire, after obtaining their verbal consent. Other relevant information was gathered through personal inspection of workstation.

Results and Discussion

Mean age of the subjects who participated in this study was 25.04 years with a range of 18 to 55 years. 3/4 th of the subjects were young with age of 15 to 25 years and 279 (66.6%) were male. Majority i.e., 274 (65.4%) respondents started use of computers at young age of 16-20 years. 183 (43.7%) individuals were using computers for more than 5 years. About 41% of the respondents used to work on computers for 21 to 40 hours in a week.

The prevalence of self reported symptoms related to musculoskeletal discomfort (MSD) like tiredness, neck and shoulder stiffness, neck and shoulder pain, tingling/numbness in hands or fingers during or after work or at night perhaps interrupting sleep, hand or wrist pain, backache, headache, leg cramps, leg stiffness, numbness in ankles and feet, reduction in strength of hand and difficulty in grasping objects, ranged from 0.7% to 34.8%. Overall prevalence of any musculoskeletal discomfort was 75.2%. i.e., 315 out of 419 subjects reported any of these symptoms.

In our study, 118 (28.2%) respondent felt that their work place is overcrowded. A significantly higher proportion of these subjects reported MSD [Table - 1]. Similarly, feeling of boredom at work-place was found to be associated with occurrence of MSD [Table - 1]. A feeling of boredom at work was identified as important job stressor leading to increased number of health related complaints in computer operators in studies by Linton[2] and Smith et al.[3]

176(42.0%) respondents felt that the workload at their work place is high. They were more likely to develop MSD related to computer use [Table - 1]. A study by Pot et al. , found a correlation between high levels of perceived work load and MSDs.[4] Similar result was reported by Smith et al.[3]

There have been a range of studies supporting [4],[5] and refuting[6] the hypothesis that computer work under time constraints as well as lack of social support from seniors and peers contributes to the development of MSD. In our study, tight deadlines had to be met by 203 (48.4%) subjects at their work place. No association was found between meeting such tight deadlines and any of the musculoskeletal symptoms [Table - 1]. However, our study upholds the association between MSD and support from peers as well as from seniors at workplace [Table - 2].

In our study, 180 (43%) subjects were employed in some job involving computer use. No significant association was found between job satisfaction and occurrence of MSD [Table - 2]. Linton[2] did not find any correlation between psychosocial factors at work (including job demands and satisfaction) and MSD symptoms. However, contradictory were the findings in other studies. [6],[7]

In this study, no association was established between subject's perception regarding opportunities for promotion or development in the job and occurrence of MSD [Table - 2]. Smith and Cohen found "concerns about career development" as one of the job stressors contributing to VDU operator problems, in their study on clerical operators.[3]

Thus, it can be concluded that, apart from ergonomic parameters, various psychosocial workplace factors need to be considered while designing a preventive intervention program for computer operators. But, as the review of literature shows equivocal results, a prospective study involving more objective measures may provide additional epidemiological evidence to establish impact of psychosocial work environment on computer related musculoskeletal disorders.

Acknowledgement

This study was funded by Charutar Arogya Mandal Medical Research Society, H.M.Patel Center for Medical Care and Education, Gokalnagar, Karamsad, Anand district, Gujarat.

References

1. Musculoskeletal disorders and workplace factors, A critical review of epidemiologic evidence for work-related musculoskeletal disorders of the neck, upper extremity and low back, Bruce P. Bernard, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, CDC, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, July 1997.
2. Linton SJ. Risk factors for neck and back pain in a working population in Sweden, Work Stress 1990;4:41-9.
3. Smith MJ, Cohen BG, Stammerjohn LW Jr. An investigation of health complaints and job stress in video display operations. Human Factors 1981;23:387-400. [PUBMED]
4. Pot F, Padmos P, Brouwers A. Determinants of the VDU operators well-being. Selected papers from the International Scientific Conference on Work with Display Units 86, Published by North-Holland Publishing Co: Amsterdam, The Netherlands; p. 16-25.
5. Hales TR, Sauter SL, Peterson MR, Fine LJ, Putz-Anderson V, Schleifer LR, et al . Musculoskeletal disorders among visual display terminal users in a telecommunications company. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, Ohio 45226. Ergonomics 1994;37:1603-21.
6. Dehlin O, Berg S. Back symptoms and psychological perception of work: A study among nursing aides in a geriatric hospital. Scand J Rehabil Med 1977;9:61-5. [PUBMED]
7. Hopkins A. Stress, the quality of work and repetitive strain injury in Australia. Work Stress 1990;4:129-38

Tables

For larger view please click on image

Table 1: Distribution of occurrence of musculoskeletal discomfort by psychosocial variables

Table 1: Distribution of occurrence of musculoskeletal discomfort by psychosocial variables

Table 2: Distribution of occurrence of musculoskeletal discomfort by psychosocial variables

Table 2: Distribution of occurrence of musculoskeletal discomfort by psychosocial variables

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