Saturday, September 12, 2015

Musculoskeletal Disorder Symptoms in Correction Officers: Why Do They Increase Rapidly with Job Tenure?

COs are exposed to levels of biomechanical and psychosocial stressors that have strong associations with musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in other occupations, possibly contributing to their rapid health deterioration.

Baseline survey data from a longitudinal study of COs and manufacturing line workers were used to model musculoskeletal symptom prevalence and intensity in the upper (UE) and lower (LE) extremity. Outcomes were regressed on demographics and biomechanical and psychosocial exposures.

COs reported significantly higher prevalence and intensity of LE symptoms compared to the industrial workers. In regression models, job tenure was a primary driver of CO musculoskeletal outcomes. In CO models, a single biomechanical exposure, head and arms in awkward positions, explained variance in both UE and LE prevalence (β of 0.338 and 0.357, respectively), and low decision latitude was associated with increased LE prevalence and intensity (β of 0.229 and 0.233, respectively). Manufacturing models were less explanatory. Examining demographic associations with exposure intensity, we found none to be significant in manufacturing, but in CO models, important psychosocial exposure levels increased with job tenure.

Symptom prevalence and intensity increased more rapidly with job tenure in corrections, compared to manufacturing, and were related to both biomechanical and psychosocial exposures. Tenure-related increases in psychosocial exposure levels may help explain the CO symptom increase.

Although exposure assessment improvements are proposed, findings suggest focusing on improving the psychosocial work environment to reduce MSD prevalence and intensity in corrections.

  • 1University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington
  • 2University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington.
  • 3University of Massachusetts, Lowell.

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