Prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders in the dental profession in Brunei Darussalam


Alice LAI 1, Kyi Oo YIN 1, Shivanthi BALALLA 2, Lay Wai KHIN 3, Nayake BP BALALLA 1,  Lin NAING 4

1 Occupational Health Division, Ministry of Health, Brunei Darussalam, 2 University of Auckland, New Zealand, 3 Deanís Office, Investigational Medicine Unit, National University Hospital Singapore, Singapore, 4 PAPRSB Institute of Health Sciences, Universiti Brunei Darussalam


Introduction: Many health professionals, including those in the dental profession, suffer from work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSD). Literature reviews have reported on the high prevalence as well as the significant burden in this specific profession. However, we could not find data on the prevalence of the problem and its work-related health risk profiles in Brunei Darussalam. This cross-sectional study aims to determine the prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) in the dental profession of the public sector, and identify their associated MSD risk profiles. Materials and Methods: A survey was carried out using a validated structured self-administered questionnaire among 155 dental personnel (57% response rate) employed by the Ministry of Health in Brunei Darussalam. Questions included data on demographics, general ergonomic risk, and self-reported musculoskeletal complaints. Results: The dental workforce was predominantly female (69.7%), with mean age of 39 (SD 9.87) years and mean employment duration of 13.9 (SD 8.71) years. The most commonly reported body regions for musculoskeletal problems experienced in the past year were shoulders (61.7%), lower back (59.3%), upper back (55.7%), wrists/hands (53.4%), and neck (53.3%). Significant work-related associated factors for MSD were glare for neck (p<0.05), elbows (p<0.001), wrists/hands (p<0.001) and upper back (p<0.05) regions; time spent per patient for shoulders (p<0.05), and wrists/hands (p<0.05) regions; dental group for shoulders (p<0.05), upper back (p<0.05), and lower back (p<0.05) regions; and gender for neck (p<0.05), elbows (p<0.001), wrists/hands (p<0.001), and upper back (p<0.05) regions.  Conclusion: The prevalence of self-reported MSD among dental personnel is high. Several work-related factors have been identified to be associated with musculoskeletal symptoms in varying body regions. Preventive measures need to be implemented to reduce the significant burden of MSD in the dental profession.


Keywords: Dental profession, work-related musculoskeletal disorders, Brunei


Correspondence author: Alice LAI

Occupational Health Division, Ministry of Health, Block 2G Unit 5-03, Jalan Ong Sum Ping, Bandar Seri Begawan BA 1311, Brunei Darussalam

Tel: +673 2230042 / 2230043

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Brunei Int Med J. 2013; 9 (3): 156-164