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[ Recorded presentation ] Recorded presentation

Upper Extremity Musculoskeletal Exposures and the Healthcare Worker: Is there a Gradient by Socioeconomic Status?

Jamie Tessler1, Jon Boyer1, Manuel Cifuentes1, Jungkeun Park1, Patrick Scollin2, Laura Punnett1, and The PHASE in Healthcare Research Team3. (1) Department of Work Environment, University of Massachusetts Lowell, One University Ave., Lowell, MA 01854, 978-934-4853, jtessler@igc.org, (2) Department of Community Health and Sustainability, University of Massachusetts Lowell, 3 Solomont Way, Suite 3, Lowell, MA 01854, (3) Center for Public Health Research and Health Promotion, University of Massachusetts Lowell, 3 Solomont Way, Lowell, MA 01854

A growing body of epidemiologic literature documents the association between SES (socioeconomic status) and health outcomes. This analysis is embedded within an epidemiologic study of healthcare workers that examines the explanatory role of occupational exposures. Job titles of employees (n=3,630) from four Massachusetts healthcare facilities were assigned to a 5-category SES measure developed by PHASE researchers (PHASE-SES). Employee level of responsibility and required education served as the primary criteria for SES group assignment. These job titles were also assigned Standard Occupational Classification job codes and cross-walked to Nam-Powers SES scores. Ninety-nine job titles (166 employees) in multiple departments covered a broad socioeconomic range. UE ergonomic exposure data were collected during one- to four-hour observation periods using an adaptation of the PATH method. Ergonomic exposures collected at 90-second intervals included awkward wrist/forearm posture, contact stress, pinch grip, keyboarding and the Latko Hand Activity Level (HAL) scale (0-10).

The observed healthcare jobs required a high percentage of time in awkward wrist postures (58% 68% of observations); frequent pinch grip (37% to 56% of observations); and frequent keyboarding in non-clerical professions (16% 26% of observations). HAL scores were uniformly in the moderate range (4-7). A decrease in exposure with increasing SES was observed for all weight-in-hands categories. However, the absence of a comparable SES gradient in other UE exposures, combined with an overall high frequency of these UE risk factors, suggests that healthcare work is unusually hand-intensive across socioeconomic strata.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Ergonomics, Occupational Exposure

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