Musculoskeletal Disorders among Farmers and Referents, with Special Reference to Occurence, Health Care Utilization and Etiological Factors : A Population-based Study
Abstract: Objectives. To study the prevalence of musculoskeletal symptoms among farmers as compared to rural referents and to evaluate the effects of physical work exposures, psychosocial factors, lifestyle and comorbidity.Material and methods. A cross-sectional population-based survey of 1013 farmers and 769 matched referents was performed. Data on various symptoms, consultations and sick leave and information on primary health care and hospital admissions were obtained along with information on physical workload, psychosocial factors and lifestyle. Results. The farmers reported higher lifetime prevalence of symptoms from hands and forearms, low back and hips as compared to the referents. However, the farmers did not seek medical advice more often than the referents, and they reported significantly fewer sick leaves. After adjustment for the influence of physical work exposure, farmers still had a excess rate of low back pain (LBP) and hip symptoms as compared with the referents, while a lower rate of neck-shoulder symptoms was revealed. Several of the psychosocial variables were associated with LBP but the difference in LBP prevalence between farmers and referents could only be explained to some extent. LBP was associated with musculoskeletal symptoms other than LBP and with chest discomfort, dyspepsia, symptoms from mucous membranes, skin problems, work-related fever attacks, and primary care for digestive disorders. Presence of both respiratory and digestive disorders doubled the LBP prevalence.Conclusions. Symptoms from hips and low back were more frequent among farmers than among referents, but farmers did not seek more health care and reported fewer sick leaves than referents. Physical work exposure and psychosocial factors did not explain the differences in low back and hip symptoms between the two groups. Significant associations between LBP and digestive and respiratory disorders might indicate that these disorders may have etiological factors in common.
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