Work-related upper quadrant musculoskeletal disorders in midwives, nurses and physicians: A systematic review of risk factors and functional consequences

Maryann H. Long, Venerina Johnston, Fiona Bogossian

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

87 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Given a worldwide shortage of primary health care workers predicted to worsen, it is vital to address sources of attrition among these professionals. One such source may be work-related musculoskeletal disorders. We aimed to identify risk factors for and functional consequences of work-related upper quadrant musculoskeletal disorders in midwives, nurses and physicians. Methods: Eighteen of 87 studies identified from an electronic database search met the inclusion and quality criteria. Results: Job demands, demanding work schedules and physical exposures have the strongest associations with work-related upper quadrant musculoskeletal disorders. Functional consequences included widespread use of prescription and over-the-counter medications and major negative impact on activities of daily living. No studies of midwives were located. Conclusion: High-quality studies of midwives as well as better-designed prospective studies of nurses and physicians are needed. Results of such studies could inform preventive strategies and reduce the contribution of work-related musculoskeletal disorders to attrition. 

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)455-467
Number of pages13
JournalApplied Ergonomics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Health personnel
  • Musculoskeletal system/injuries
  • Risk factors

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