Evaluation of musculoskeletal symptoms and of work ability in a higher education institution

Avaliação dos sintomas osteomusculares e da capacidade para o trabalho em uma instituição de ensino superior

Denise Hollanda Iunes Melissa Louyse Duarte Leticia do Vale Pereira Murilo César do Nascimento Valdeci Carlos Dionisio About the authors

Abstracts

Introduction

Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) represent a significant object of study for the field of occupational health, as they can lead to absenteeism, compensation costs and different levels of functional disability. Nonetheless, there are few studies assessing WMSDs in public higher education institutions.

Objective

The present study aimed to investigate, describe and correlate musculoskeletal symptoms and work ability of staff members of the Federal University of Alfenas (Unifal-MG), in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil.

Materials and methods

A descriptive and correlational study was conducted with 213 professors, 188 administrative technicians and 124 outsourced staff members using two self-administered questionnaires: the Work Ability Index (WAI) and the Nordic Musculoskeletal Questionnaire (NMQ).

Results

Most of the teaching staff presented good work ability 47.9% (n = 102). Among administrative technicians and outsourced staff, on the other hand, excellent work ability predominated, with 43.6% (n = 82 technicians) and 51.61% (n = 68 outsourced). The most affected region among professors and administrative staff was the neck/cervical area 36.15% (n = 77 professors); and 28.19% (n = 53 technicians). Among outsourced staff, the lower back was reported as the main source of pain, with 23.28% (n = 29).

Conclusions

The presence of pain interfered in the work ability of workers regardless of the affected region. Having another occupation outside the institution did not influence pain of self-assessed staff members. The work ability of Unifal-MG staff was classified as good or excellent; thus, we recommend preventive work for this population, directed at the physical and mental aspects of work activities in order to maintain or improve such rates.

Cumulative trauma disorders; Work capacity evaluation; Occupational health


Introdução

Os distúrbios osteomusculares relacionados ao trabalho (Dort) representam preocupação para a saúde ocupacional, uma vez que geram absenteísmo, custos com indenizações, além de diferentes graus de incapacidade funcional. Mesmo assim, são escassos os estudos que os tenham avaliado em instituições públicas de ensino superior.

Objetivo

Este trabalho buscou investigar, descrever e correlacionar os sintomas osteomusculares e a capacidade para o trabalho dos servidores da Universidade Federal de Alfenas (Unifal-MG), no estado de Minas Gerais.

Materiais e métodos

Estudo descritivo-correlacional, que caracterizou 213 professores, 188 técnicos administrativos e 124 funcionários terceirizados, por meio de dois questionários autoaplicáveis: o Índice de Capacidade para o Trabalho (ICT) e o Questionário Nórdico de Sintomas Osteomusculares (QNSO).

Resultados

A maioria dos professores apresentou boa capacidade para o trabalho 47,9% (n = 102). Já entre os técnicos administrativos e funcionários terceirizados, predominou ótima capacidade com 43,6% (n = 82 técnicos) e 51,61% (n = 68 terceirizados). As regiões mais acometidas por dor entre os professores e os técnicos administrativos foram o pescoço/região cervical 36,15% (n = 77 docentes); e 28,19% (n = 53 técnicos). Já a região lombar foi a que se destacou entre os terceirizados como a principal fonte de dor, 23,28% (n = 29).

Conclusões

A presença de dor interfere na capacidade de trabalho do indivíduo, independente da região acometida. A ocupação externa não influenciou o estado doloroso dos servidores autoavaliados. A capacidade dos colaboradores da Unifal-MG foi classificada como boa ou ótima, por isso sugere-se um trabalho preventivo, com abordagem nos aspectos físicos e mentais da atividade laboral, visando a manutenção ou melhoria desse índice.

Distúrbios osteomusculares relacionados ao trabalho; Avaliação da capacidade de trabalho; Saúde do trabalhador


Introduction

Occupational diseases have been recognized by the Brazilian Ministry of Health (11 Brasil. Ministério da Saúde. Secretaria de Atenção à Saúde. Lesões por esforços repetitivos (LER), distúrbios osteomusculares relacionados ao trabalho (Dort), dor relacionada ao trabalho: protocolos de atenção integral à saúde do trabalhador de complexidade diferenciada. Brasília: Ministério da Saúde; 2006., 22 Maeno M, Wünsch Filho V. Reinserção no mercado de trabalho de ex-trabalhadores com LER/DORT de uma empresa telefônica na região metropolitana de São Paulo. Rev Bras Saúde Ocup. 2010;121(35):53-63.) since 2004 and when such diseases specifically affect the musculoskeletal system, they are denominated work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) (11 Brasil. Ministério da Saúde. Secretaria de Atenção à Saúde. Lesões por esforços repetitivos (LER), distúrbios osteomusculares relacionados ao trabalho (Dort), dor relacionada ao trabalho: protocolos de atenção integral à saúde do trabalhador de complexidade diferenciada. Brasília: Ministério da Saúde; 2006.). WMSDs account for most leaves of work (22 Maeno M, Wünsch Filho V. Reinserção no mercado de trabalho de ex-trabalhadores com LER/DORT de uma empresa telefônica na região metropolitana de São Paulo. Rev Bras Saúde Ocup. 2010;121(35):53-63.

3 Yu W, Yu IT, Li Z, Wang X, Sun T, Lin H, et al. Work-related injuries and musculoskeletal disorders among factory workers in a major city of China. Accid Anal Prev. 2012; 48:457-63.

4 Eatough EM, Way JD, Chang CH. Understanding the link between psychosocial work stressors and work-related musculoskeletal complaints. Appl Ergon. 2012;43(3):554-63.

5 Mendes LF, Lancman S. Reabilitação de pacientes com LER/DORT: contribuições da fisioterapia em grupo. Rev Bras Saúde Ocup. 2010;121(35):23-32.
-66 Westgaard RH, Winkel J. Occupational musculoskeletal and mental health: significance of rationalization and opportunities to create sustainable production systems; a systematic review. Appl Ergon. 2011;42(2):261-96.) and compensation costs (33 Yu W, Yu IT, Li Z, Wang X, Sun T, Lin H, et al. Work-related injuries and musculoskeletal disorders among factory workers in a major city of China. Accid Anal Prev. 2012; 48:457-63., 44 Eatough EM, Way JD, Chang CH. Understanding the link between psychosocial work stressors and work-related musculoskeletal complaints. Appl Ergon. 2012;43(3):554-63.), both in Brazil and in most industrialized countries (11 Brasil. Ministério da Saúde. Secretaria de Atenção à Saúde. Lesões por esforços repetitivos (LER), distúrbios osteomusculares relacionados ao trabalho (Dort), dor relacionada ao trabalho: protocolos de atenção integral à saúde do trabalhador de complexidade diferenciada. Brasília: Ministério da Saúde; 2006., 77 Livramento G, Franco T, Livramento A. A ginástica terapêutica e preventiva chinesa Lian Gong/ Qi Gong como um dos instrumentos na prevenção e reabilitação da LER/DORT. Rev Bras Saúde Ocup. 2010;121(35):74-86.

8 Widanarko, B, Legg S, Stevenson M, Devereux J, Eng A, Mannetje A, et al. Prevalence of musculoskeletal symptoms in relation to gender, age, and occupational/industrial group. Int J Ind Ergon. 2011;41(5):561-72.

9 Carvalho AJFP, Alexandre NMC. Sintomas osteomusculares em professores do ensino fundamental. Rev Bras Fisioter. 2006;10(1):35-41.
-1010 Choobineh A, Motamedzade M, Kazemi M, Moghimbeigi A, Pahlavian AH. The impact of ergonomics intervention on psychosocial factors and musculoskeletal symptoms among office workers. Int J Ind Ergon. 2011; 41(6):671-6.). Furthermore, WMSDs can lead to different levels of functional disability, being considered a severe problem within the field of worker health (55 Mendes LF, Lancman S. Reabilitação de pacientes com LER/DORT: contribuições da fisioterapia em grupo. Rev Bras Saúde Ocup. 2010;121(35):23-32., 1111 Fernandes MH, Rocha VM, Costa-Oliveira AGR. Fatores associados à prevalência de sintomas osteomusculares em professores. Rev Salud Pública. 2009;11(2): 256-67., 1212 Santos GLV, Silva IL, Cardoso F, Beresford D. Ocorrência de distúrbios osteomusculares relacionados ao trabalho dos professores de uma instituição de ensino superior de Belém/PA. Fisioter Bras. 2009;10(4):263-9., 1313 Walsh IAP, Corral S, Franco RN, Canetti EEF, Alem MER, Coury HJCG. Capacidade para o trabalho em indivíduos com lesões músculo esqueléticas crônicas. Rev Saúde Pública. 2004;38(2):149-56.). A WMSD diagnosis is complicated and frequently delayed, as it is based only on patient complaints, which cannot always be verified (1313 Walsh IAP, Corral S, Franco RN, Canetti EEF, Alem MER, Coury HJCG. Capacidade para o trabalho em indivíduos com lesões músculo esqueléticas crônicas. Rev Saúde Pública. 2004;38(2):149-56., 1414 Augusto VG, Sampaio RF, Tirado MGA, Mancini MC, Parreira VF. Um olhar sobre as LER/DORT no contexto clínico do fisioterapeuta. Rev Bras Fisioter. 2008; 12(1):49-56.). This characteristic makes treatment difficult and strongly influences the conduct of workers in and out of the work environment (11 Brasil. Ministério da Saúde. Secretaria de Atenção à Saúde. Lesões por esforços repetitivos (LER), distúrbios osteomusculares relacionados ao trabalho (Dort), dor relacionada ao trabalho: protocolos de atenção integral à saúde do trabalhador de complexidade diferenciada. Brasília: Ministério da Saúde; 2006., 1515 De Vitta A, Bertaglia RS, Padovani CR. Efeitos de dois procedimentos educacionais sobre os sintomas musculoesqueléticos em trabalhadores administrativos. Rev Bras Fisioter. 2008;12(1):20-5.

16 Barbosa MSA, Santos RM, Trezza MCSF. A vida do trabalhador antes e após a Lesão por Esforço Repetitivo (LER) e Doença Osteomuscular Relacionada ao Trabalho (DORT). Rev Bras Enferm. 2007;6(5):491-6.

17 Verthein MAR, Minayo-Gomez C. ‘A construção do “sujeito-doente” em LER. Hist Cien Saude-Manguinhos. 2000;7(2):327-45.
-1818 Salim CA. Doenças do trabalho: exclusão, segregação e relações de gênero. São Paulo Perspec. 2003; 17(1):11-24.).

Work ability is the result of combined human resources in terms of physical, mental and social work demands, organizational culture and work environment (1919 Merlo IRC, Vaz MA, Spode CS, Elbern JLG, Karkow ARM, Vieira PRB. O trabalho entre prazer, sofrimento e adoecimento: a realidade dos portadores de lesões por esforços repetitivos. Rev Psicol Soc. 2003;15(1):117-36.). Reduced work ability is a process of functional aging that should occur concomitant with chronologic aging. However, in some cases, it occurs precociously due to work conditions (22 Maeno M, Wünsch Filho V. Reinserção no mercado de trabalho de ex-trabalhadores com LER/DORT de uma empresa telefônica na região metropolitana de São Paulo. Rev Bras Saúde Ocup. 2010;121(35):53-63.). Therefore, evaluating work ability in order to identify its premature decline is of extreme importance for the implementation of prevention measures for improving working conditions and avoiding the development of WMSDs (55 Mendes LF, Lancman S. Reabilitação de pacientes com LER/DORT: contribuições da fisioterapia em grupo. Rev Bras Saúde Ocup. 2010;121(35):23-32., 1616 Barbosa MSA, Santos RM, Trezza MCSF. A vida do trabalhador antes e após a Lesão por Esforço Repetitivo (LER) e Doença Osteomuscular Relacionada ao Trabalho (DORT). Rev Bras Enferm. 2007;6(5):491-6., 2020 Robertson MM, Ciriello VM, Garabet AM. Office ergonomics training and a sit-stand workstation: effects on musculoskeletal and visual symptoms and performance of office workers. Appl Ergon. 2013; 44(1):73-85.).

Although research has found a great prevalence of WMSDs among workers in general, there are no studies investigating the work environment of public higher education institutions. Thus, the present study aimed to investigate, describe and correlate musculoskeletal symptoms and work ability of teaching and administrative staff at a Brazilian higher education institution.

Materials and methods

This was a descriptive and correlational study on the relationship between work ability and musculoskeletal symptoms, among 615 staff members of the Federal University of Alfenas (Unifal-MG), Campus I, Alfenas, in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. The study sample comprised 214 professors, 188 administrative technicians and 124 outsourced staff, both men and women, from all work shifts. Of the 615 participants, 90 were lost to sample attrition. Inclusion criteria were being a staff member at the referred institution and willing to participate. Exclusion criteria were having less than a primary level of education and/or being on medical leave of absence or vacation at the time of data collection.

Two self-administered questionnaires were employed: The Work Ability Index (WAI) (2121 Tuomi K, Ilmarinen J, Jahkola A, Katajararinne L, Tulkki A. Índice de capacidade para o trabalho. Trad. Frida Marina Fischer et al. São Paulo: FSPUSP; 1997.) and the Nordic Musculoskeletal Questionnaire (NMQ) (2222 Dickinson CE, Campion K, Foster AF, Newman SJ, O’rourke AMT, Thomas PG. Questionnaire development: an examination of the Nordic Musculoskeletal questionnaire. Appl Ergon. 1992;23(3):197-201.). The WAI was developed based on studies conducted in Finland and was transculturally adapted to Brazilian Portuguese by Tuomi et al. (2121 Tuomi K, Ilmarinen J, Jahkola A, Katajararinne L, Tulkki A. Índice de capacidade para o trabalho. Trad. Frida Marina Fischer et al. São Paulo: FSPUSP; 1997.). The translated Portuguese version presented acceptable levels of reliability tested through internal consistency (Cronbach’s alpha 0.72) (2323 Martinez MC, Latorre MRDO, Fischer FM. Validade e confiabilidade da versão brasileira do Índice de Capacidade para o Trabalho. Rev Saúde Pública. 2009; 43(3):525-32.) and test-retest with internal consistency of 0.84 (CI95% 0.78 to 0.88; p < 0.001) (2424 Renosto A, Biz P, Hennington EA, Pattussi MP. Confiabilidade teste-reteste do Índice de Capacidade para o Trabalho em trabalhadores metalúrgicos do Sul do Brasil. Rev Bras Epidemiol. 2009;12(2):217-25.). Cultural validation of the WAI for the Brazilian population took place by comparing it to the Medical Outcomes Study 36 – Item short form health survey (SF-36) (2323 Martinez MC, Latorre MRDO, Fischer FM. Validade e confiabilidade da versão brasileira do Índice de Capacidade para o Trabalho. Rev Saúde Pública. 2009; 43(3):525-32.).

The WAI assesses work ability based on worker self-perception (2525 Seibt R, Lützkendorf L, Thinschmidt M. Risk factors and resources of work ability in teachers and office workers. Int Congr Ser. 2005;1280:310-15.), determined by seven items that investigate ability, health, state of mind and work impairment (1313 Walsh IAP, Corral S, Franco RN, Canetti EEF, Alem MER, Coury HJCG. Capacidade para o trabalho em indivíduos com lesões músculo esqueléticas crônicas. Rev Saúde Pública. 2004;38(2):149-56., 2121 Tuomi K, Ilmarinen J, Jahkola A, Katajararinne L, Tulkki A. Índice de capacidade para o trabalho. Trad. Frida Marina Fischer et al. São Paulo: FSPUSP; 1997.). The NMQ was developed by Dickinson et al. (2222 Dickinson CE, Campion K, Foster AF, Newman SJ, O’rourke AMT, Thomas PG. Questionnaire development: an examination of the Nordic Musculoskeletal questionnaire. Appl Ergon. 1992;23(3):197-201.) and was culturally adapted to Brazil by Barros (2626 Barros ENC, Alexandre RN. Cross-cultural adaptation of the Nordic musculoskeletal questionnaire. Int Nurs Rev. 2003;50(2):101-8.). Both the original and the Brazilian version presented good levels of reliability, confirmed through test-retest, and satisfactory levels of validity (2626 Barros ENC, Alexandre RN. Cross-cultural adaptation of the Nordic musculoskeletal questionnaire. Int Nurs Rev. 2003;50(2):101-8., 2727 Dawson AP, Steele EJ, Hodges PW, Stewart S. Development and test-retest reliability of an extended version of the Nordic Musculoskeletal Questionnaire (NMQ-E): a screening instrument for musculoskeletal pain. J Pain. 2009;10(5):517-26., 2828 Pinheiro FA, Tróccoli BT, Carvalho CV. Validação do Questionário Nórdico de Sintomas Osteomusculares como medida de morbidade. Rev Saúde Pública. 2002;36(3):307-12.). The NMQ was developed with the purpose of standardizing the measurement of reported musculoskeletal symptoms and thus facilitate comparability among studies (2828 Pinheiro FA, Tróccoli BT, Carvalho CV. Validação do Questionário Nórdico de Sintomas Osteomusculares como medida de morbidade. Rev Saúde Pública. 2002;36(3):307-12.).

Most of the questionnaires were given in person to each staff member in their respective departments and work shifts. In some cases, when a particular staff member was difficult to find, they were contacted via e-mail. Questionnaires were then given to the department secretaries or sent by e-mail, according to participant preference. All questionnaires were collected a week after delivery.

The data were analyzed using the SPSS version 18.0 (Statistical Package for the Social Science), and R software, version 2.14. A chi-square test was employed and significance was set at 5% to verify differences among the results of the three observed groups (professors, administrative technicians and outsourced employees). The present study was approved by the research ethics committee (protocol no. 019/2010); all participants received information on the objectives of the research and regarding data confidentiality and signed an informed consent form.

Results

The characteristics of the studied sample are described in Table 1. The results show that most of the assessed sample consisted of internal staff (professors and administrative technicians).

Table 1
Sample characteristics

Work ability indexes were heterogeneous among the investigated professional categories, as displayed in Figure 1. Most staff members presented good and excellent work ability.

Figure 1
Work Ability Index of Unifal-MG staff (Campus I, Alfenas, Minas Gerais, Brazil)

In order to assess the regions most affected by pain, the results were analyzed in two subgroups: absent or rare pain and, in the other subgroup, frequent or constant pain, according to each professional category. The results demonstrate that the most affected regions among professors and administrative technicians were neck/cervical region, shoulders, lower back, hips/lower limbs and upper back. Other frequently reported areas by administrative technicians were wrists/hands/fingers. Among outsourced staff, the most reported sites were the lower back, shoulders and hips/lower limbs. Forearms and elbows were the least affected regions in all three groups (Figure 2).

Figure 2
Regions most affected by pain, discomfort or numbness among Unifal-MG staff (Campus I, Alfenas, Minas Gerais, Brazil)

Table 2 presents the NMQ data and its association with the obtained WAI scores. The results indicate that the presence of pain, regardless of the affected region, interferes with the work ability of staff members.

Table 2
WAI score and presence of pain among Unifal-MG staff (Campus I, Alfenas, Minas Gerais, Brazil)

Table 3 displays the relationship between presence of pain, measured with the NMQ, and whether or not participants held other jobs outside the institution. In other words, having an occupation external to the institution did not influence the pain experienced by staff members.

Table 3
Presence of pain and performance of other professional activities of Unifal-MG staff (Campus I, Alfenas, Minas Gerais, Brazil)

Discussion

The relationship observed between physical and mental capacity and respective work ability points to the importance of a psychological and biological approach to enhancing adaptation to the work environment. An example of such interaction was described by Silva et al. (2929 Silva EF, Oliveira KKM, Souza PCZ. Saúde mental do trabalhador: o assédio moral praticado contra trabalhadores com LER/DORT. Rev Bras Saúde Ocup. 2011;36(123):56-70.), who found that the fear generated by potential loss of employment due to illness was a cause of suffering that was not shared with colleagues and, in some cases, not even with family members. In the present research, two of the three groups, that is, professors and administrative technicians, consisted of staff members who were admitted via civil service examinations, which implies professional stability. Such job security may have positively influenced the emotional component and, consequently, work ability, which was good or excellent in 86.78% of the sample population.

Comparing the work ability observed in this study, we cite the work of Freude et al. (3030 Freude G, Seibt R, Pech E, Ullsperger P. Assessment of work ability and vitality: a study of teachers of different age groups. Int Congr Ser. 2005;1280:270-4.) who found excellent WAI scores in only 3% of secondary school teachers; most of the cases in the study (3030 Freude G, Seibt R, Pech E, Ullsperger P. Assessment of work ability and vitality: a study of teachers of different age groups. Int Congr Ser. 2005;1280:270-4.) presented good work ability, followed by moderate and poor. It is worth emphasizing that preventive actions for such conditions should be implemented before workers begin the retirement process. Considering the population of administrative technicians, a study conducted by Martinez and Latorre (3131 Martinez MC, Latorre MRDO. Saúde e capacidade para o trabalho em trabalhadores da área administrativa. Rev Saúde Pública. 2006;40(5):851-8.) with workers from the same sector found a greater prevalence of excellent work ability, followed by good, consistent with the findings of the present study. Martinez and Latorre (3131 Martinez MC, Latorre MRDO. Saúde e capacidade para o trabalho em trabalhadores da área administrativa. Rev Saúde Pública. 2006;40(5):851-8.) also found that work ability results were associated with job satisfaction among staff members, which interfered in their physical and mental abilities.

In terms of the areas most affected by muscle pain among Unifal-MG professors, the results were similar to those of Carvalho and Alexandre (99 Carvalho AJFP, Alexandre NMC. Sintomas osteomusculares em professores do ensino fundamental. Rev Bras Fisioter. 2006;10(1):35-41.), who studied primary school teachers and found a greater occurrence of pain in the wrists/hands, lower back, upper back, and cervical region. Fernandes et al. (1111 Fernandes MH, Rocha VM, Costa-Oliveira AGR. Fatores associados à prevalência de sintomas osteomusculares em professores. Rev Salud Pública. 2009;11(2): 256-67.) found a high prevalence of musculoskeletal symptoms among teaching staff, with symptoms in 93% of the teachers in the study. The affected regions also converged, namely the upper back, lower back and cervical region. Carvalho and Alexandre (99 Carvalho AJFP, Alexandre NMC. Sintomas osteomusculares em professores do ensino fundamental. Rev Bras Fisioter. 2006;10(1):35-41.) also demonstrated that such musculoskeletal discomfort influenced these workers’ quality of life, as a great portion of professionals had sought care from some health professional. The same can be said of the current study, as data crossing between NMQ and WAI results revealed that regardless of the affected region, pain exerted a negative influence on the work ability of staff members.

Regarding administrative technicians, the most affected regions were the neck/cervical, shoulder, lower back, hips/lower limbs, upper back, and wrists/fingers/hands. Other studies conducted with office workers found that workers reported the neck (2020 Robertson MM, Ciriello VM, Garabet AM. Office ergonomics training and a sit-stand workstation: effects on musculoskeletal and visual symptoms and performance of office workers. Appl Ergon. 2013; 44(1):73-85., 3232 Andersen LL, Christensen KB, Holtermann A, Poulsen OM, Sjøgaard G, Pedersen MT, et al. Effect of physical exercise interventions on musculoskeletal pain in all body regions among office workers: a one-year randomized controlled trial. Man Ther. 2010;15(1):100-4.) and shoulders (2020 Robertson MM, Ciriello VM, Garabet AM. Office ergonomics training and a sit-stand workstation: effects on musculoskeletal and visual symptoms and performance of office workers. Appl Ergon. 2013; 44(1):73-85.) most frequently. De Vitta et al. (1515 De Vitta A, Bertaglia RS, Padovani CR. Efeitos de dois procedimentos educacionais sobre os sintomas musculoesqueléticos em trabalhadores administrativos. Rev Bras Fisioter. 2008;12(1):20-5.) found that raising awareness among employees regarding the adoption of new postures and the organization of the work environment resulted in reduced frequency of musculoskeletal symptoms. Analysis of the outsourced staff in the present study demonstrated that the most affected sites were the lower back, shoulder and hips/lower limbs. In studies conducted by Martarello and Benatti (3333 Martarello NA, Benatti MCC. Qualidade de vida e sintomas osteomusculares em trabalhadores de higiene e limpeza hospitalar. Rev Esc Enferm USP. 2009;43(2):422-8.) in a public municipal hospital with hospital hygiene and sanitation staff, the most prevalent pain complaints involved the shoulders, followed by the dorsal region, neck and lower back. Widanarko et al. (88 Widanarko, B, Legg S, Stevenson M, Devereux J, Eng A, Mannetje A, et al. Prevalence of musculoskeletal symptoms in relation to gender, age, and occupational/industrial group. Int J Ind Ergon. 2011;41(5):561-72.) also reported that workers with high physical demands had a higher prevalence of pain in the neck, shoulders and lower back.

The present study did not corroborate the recurring argument that length of work shift in addition to other jobs can influence work ability due to muscle overload and fatigue, favoring the development of musculoskeletal symptoms. The results obtained did not show any connection between variables. Nonetheless, Fernandes et al. (1111 Fernandes MH, Rocha VM, Costa-Oliveira AGR. Fatores associados à prevalência de sintomas osteomusculares em professores. Rev Salud Pública. 2009;11(2): 256-67.) suggested that the high prevalence of musculoskeletal symptoms among female teachers can be related to the “double burden” imposed on this population and emphasized the need for further research in this direction in order to deepen the discussion.

The present study revealed that the work ability of Unifal-MG staff was classified as good or excellent. Therefore, only preventive work is necessary with the purpose of improving or maintaining such rates. The authors recommend that extension projects be implemented (with preventive measures such as exercise in the workplace, massage therapy and postural orientation) aimed at preventing the development of musculoskeletal symptoms and maintain the levels of work ability found among staff members. Finally, we also suggest a follow-up study to verify the contribution of such preventive action, comparing work ability and musculoskeletal symptoms among the same population after the application of these techniques.

Acknowledgements

We thank the Minas Gerais State Research Foundation (Fapemig) for the financial support and the Unifal-MG rectory, as well as the availability and consideration of all staff members who participated in the study.

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Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    Apr-Jun 2015

History

  • Received
    03 Oct 2012
  • Accepted
    26 Feb 2015
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