We investigated the prevalence and distribution of Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD) among Chinese medical students, by means of a questionnaire survey. A total of 207 questionnaires were successfully returned, giving a high response rate of 92.4%. The MSD period-prevalence at any body site was 67.6% in the previous year and 46.9% in the previous week. Almost one-third of them (31.9%), reported an ongoing MSD. By individual body site, the most commonly affected region was the lower back (40.1% in the last year), followed by the neck (33.8%) and shoulders (21.7%). The 7 day period-prevalence also followed a similar descending pattern, being reported by 20.8% at the lower back and 12.1% at both the neck and knees. MSD affected the daily life of students for an average period of 53.8 days, with an average of 6.6 sick days taken from school. Students reporting high mental pressure were 2.9 times more likely to suffer low back pain in the previous 12 months (OR 2.9, 95%CI 1.4-5.9, P=0.0030). Overall, our study suggests that Chinese medical students are at reasonable MSD risk, although it is probably lower than for working physicians. Further investigations are now recommended to elucidate the MSD mechanisms and contributory factors among medical students in China, as elsewhere. A longitudinal study of MSD among a complete group of medical students would be very useful in this regard.
2005 Kurume University School of Medicine