Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders among Greek Dentists - A Nationwide Survey

Author(s): Berdouses EB, Sifakaki Maria, Katsantoni A, Andrikoula T, Oulis CJ

Background: Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are a significant health problem among dental professionals. The aim of this survey was to investigate the prevalence of MSDs among Greek dentists and how they are correlated to the prevailing working conditions in practicing clinical dentistry.

Methods: The sample consisted of 1500 questionnaires filled out by telephone interviews of Greek dentists, randomly selected, nationwide. The questionnaire included dentist’s demographic and background data, whether being a specialist or a general dentist, working time during the day, number and duration of breaks, dentist’s posture and patient’s position, whether practicing four-handed dentistry and the recorded MSDs. Categorical variables have been summarized through absolute and relative % frequencies and continuous ones through their median and interquartile range. Associations between categorical variables have been tested through the chi-square test.

Results: The results indicated that 54.1% of the sample experienced MSDs, the prevalence of the problems was increased after 10 years of practice (33.2%) and was doubled after 30 years of practice in the 69.6% of the cases. The most prevalent work-related MSDs was back problems (18.6%), hands problems (18.6%), cervical syndrome (14.0%), shoulder (10.5%), lower leg problems (11.9%) and carpal tunnel syndrome (8.3%). Only 12.7% of the dentists practice four-handed dentistry in a seated position with an assistant next to a prone patient. The statistics demonstrated that there was little difference in the prevalence of MSDs between those who practiced four-handed dentistry and those who didn’t. However there was a change in the distribution of MSDs between different parts of the body.

Conclusions: MSD is a significant occupational problem among dentist which is affected by the working posture and ergonomics of the working environment. Back problems, cervical syndrome and leg problems were the most common types of MSD reported. Dentists working seated and using four-handed dentistry had lower prevalence compared to the ones standing or not using four-handed dentistry.

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