n Ergonomics SA : Journal of the Ergonomics Society of South Africa - The point prevalence of work-related musculoskeletal pain among general surgeons in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Volume 24, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1010-2728



During surgery, surgeons experience substantial stress to the musculoskeletal system. The proposed mechanism of such stress has been attributed to a large number of ergonomic variables. The aim of this study was to investigate the point prevalence of musculoskeletal pain and its predisposing mechanism of injury among general surgeons in the South African. Seventy six general surgeons participated in an occupational, epidemiological, retrospective study, voluntarily. Biographical and kinanthropometric measurements, occupational and musculoskeletal information were gathered using a self-report questionnaire (n=76). Descriptive statistical analysis (mode, mean, frequency, percentage) and inferential statistics (chi-square) were employed to analysisthe data with the level of significance set at 0.05. According to the results, 69.74% of the cohort experienced musculoskeletal pain in one or more anatomical location/s (n=53; p<0.001) of which lower back pain (60.38%) was the most prevalent (X2 (N=76) = 0.021 p<.05). The majority (n=76) of the cohort opted for standing posture with prolonged, sustained cervical, vertebral, glenohumeral and elbow flexion during surgical procedures Preference to stand (n=76) or remain seated (n=71) during a surgical procedure is postulated to be a non-protective factor against experiencing musculoskeletal pain as both these portions of the cohort experienced a similar prevalence of musculoskeletal pain (69.73% vs. 67.61%; p>0.05). Collectively the ergonomic choices made by the cohort deviated from the normal anatomical standing position as outlined by Kendall in 1983, for prolonged periods of time, thereby escalating postural load, propagating musculoskeletal pain.

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