Saf Health Work.  2020 Dec;11(4):491-499. 10.1016/j.shaw.2020.07.008.

Self-Reported Variables as Determinants of Upper Limb Musculoskeletal Symptoms in Assembly Line Workers

Affiliations
  • 1NOVA National School of Public Health, Occupational Health and Environmental Health Department, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal
  • 2NOVA National School of Public Health, Public Health Research Centre, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa, Comprehensive Health Research Center (CHRC), Lisbon, Portugal
  • 3School of Health Care, Department of Physiotherapy, Setubal, Portugal

Abstract

Background
Assembly lines work is frequently associated to work-related upper limb musculoskeletal disorders. The related disability and absenteeism make it important to implement efficient health surveillance systems. The main objective of this study was to identify self-reported variables that can determine work-related upper limb musculoskeletal symptoms—discomfort/pain–during a 6-month follow-up.
Methods
This was a prospective study with a 6-month follow-up period, performed in an assembly line. Upper limb musculoskeletal discomfort/pain was assessed through the presence of self-reported symptoms. Uni- and multivariate logistic regression analyses were used to evaluate which self-reported variables were associated to upper limb symptoms after 6 months at the present and to upper limbs symptoms in the past month.
Results
Of the 200 workers at baseline, 145 replied to the survey after 6 months. For both outcomes, “having upper limb symptoms during the previous 6 months” and “education” were possible predictors.
Conclusion
Our results suggest that having previous upper limb symptoms was related to its maintenance after 6 months, sustaining it as a specific determinant. It can be a hypothesis that this population had mainly workers with chronic symptoms, although our results give only limited support to self-reported indicators as determinants for upper limb symptoms. Nevertheless, the development of an efficient health surveillance system for high demanding jobs should implicate self-reported indicators, but also clinical and work conditions assessment should be accounted on the future.

Keyword

Automotive assembly line; High-demanding jobs; Occupational health; Work-related upper limb musculoskeletal disorders
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