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[ Recorded presentation ] Recorded presentation

Socioeconomic status and back disorder risk factors in healthcare workers

Jon Boyer, Jungkeun Park, Jamie Tessler, Patrick Scollin, Manuel Cifuentes, and Laura Punnett. PHASE In Healthcare Project, University of Massachusetts Lowell, One University Ave., Lowell, MA 01854, 978-934-4853, jonboyer@comcast.net

Introduction: Back pain and injuries have been reported to be more common among those with lower socioeconomic status (SES). We examined the distributions of ergonomic exposures by SES to evaluate their potential for mediation of this gradient in back disorder risk. Methods: All adult healthcare workers from 2 hospitals and 2 nursing homes (n=3,630) were assigned by job title to ergonomic job groups by trained ergonomists. Facility job titles were assigned SOC job codes and cross-walked to Nam-Powers SES scores. Job titles were also classified by researchers into a novel 5-category “PHASE-SES” measure, based on education required for the job and level of responsibility. Ergonomic exposures were collected through direct observation of a population subset (n=180) in 99 job titles, over the full SES range, using a modification of the PATH method (Buchholz et al., 1996). Job mean percentage of time in each of 4 ergonomic exposure categories was computed, as were Spearman correlation coefficients between exposures and SES at the job level. Results: A total of 23,071 observations were collected over 225 observation periods (1-8hrs). Each of the 4 ergonomic exposures was moderately correlated in the expected direction with SES measures. Correlations (p-values) for Nam-Powers scores were: trunk bend/twist [-0.21(0.04)], load handling >10lbs [-0.36(0.0002)], manual lifting [-0.44(<0.0001)], and sitting [+0.41(<0.0001)]. Conclusion: Despite sparse observational data in the highest SES categories and unique SES distributions in healthcare workers, there is preliminary evidence of an inverse relationship between SES and physical ergonomic risk factors for back disorders.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of this session, the participant (learner) will be able to

Keywords: Occupational Exposure, Social Inequalities

Related Web page: www.uml.edu/phase

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No

[ Recorded presentation ] Recorded presentation

Ergonomic exposures and socioeconomic status: Findings of the PHASE in Healthcare research project

The 134th Annual Meeting & Exposition (November 4-8, 2006) of APHA