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Lihua He|Research on work-related musculoskeletal injury questionnaires, definition criterion and ergonomic load assessment methods

Date:2017-07-22Author:
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何丽华W.jpg


  

Lihua He

Professor

Ph.D. Adviser

Department of Occupational and Environmental Health

School of Public Health

Peking University


She has engaged in the teaching and research work on occupational health for many years, and the main research fields include the occupational ergonomics and the occupational hazards of physical factors. She is now the secretary general and vice chairman of Chinese Ergonomics Society, the chairman of Occupational Ergonomics Specialized Committee, the member of Ergonomic Standardization Technical Committee, the 1st level technical expert of the military logistics technical equipment evaluation expert database, and the member of Public Health Examination Design Committee of National Physician Qualification Examination. She has undertaken more than 10 national projects as the head and backbone, such as National Natural Science Foundation of China, and National Science and Technology Infrastructure Program for the 11th and 12th Five-year Plan. Now she is undertaking the project of National Key Technologies Research and Development Program for the 13th Five-year Plan as the project manager. She has published more than 70 papers, of which 20+ were included in SCI.


Topic: Research on work-related musculoskeletal injury questionnaires, definition criterion and ergonomic load assessment methods 


Abstract : Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) refer to disorders of the muscles, bones, and nervous system caused by occupational factors. In the process of production, occupational population suffer from ergonomic loads due to compulsive postures, repetitive movements or lifting heavy objects, their body parts (especially neck, shoulder, back) are easily damaged, and symptoms of acid, numbness, swelling, pain and others occurred in these areas. 

The diagnostic methods of WMSDs mainly include questionnaire survey and clinical physical examination. The former is convenient, fast and widely used. There are differences in the setting of items among questionnaires based on different study purposes. For example, McGill pain questionnaire focuses on the description of pain characteristics; Maastricht Upper Extremity Questionnaire and Nordic musculoskeletal questionnaire pay attention to injuries in the upper extremity and each body part, respectively; while Dutch musculoskeletal questionnaire also includes exploring risk factors. In addition, our research team has developed a musculoskeletal questionnaire, which is suitable for the occupational population in China. It has been investigated and validated in many industries and regions, and proved fine application effect.

WMSDs has many pathogenic factors, involving complex bodily systems, thus it is difficult to define them from the clinical and epidemiological perspectives. The prevalence in different research reports varies greatly, on the one hand, it is due to specific job types, on the other hand, it is caused by different definition criteria, mainly covering the following aspects: (1)specific  musculoskeletal symptoms, such as pain, numbness, swelling and other manifestations; (2) the symptom survey time can be traced back to the past 3 months, the past 6 months and the past 1 years. Either too long or too short is not good since it will cause recall bias or case missing; (3) symptom duration should follow clinical data so as to improve the accuracy of diagnosis. 

Previous epidemiological studies have shown that ergonomic load is one of the major causes of WMSDs, which mainly contains: strength load caused by heavy physical or repeated exertion; postural load caused by poor posture; mental burden caused by social psychological factors and other loads caused by vibration or other factors. Methods assessing these loads are NIOSH lifting formula, rapid upper limb evaluation method, rapid entire body assessment, job content questionnaire and so on. These methods have their own advantages and disadvantages, which should be taken into consideration in different circumstances. 

In conclusion, there are many questions to be solved in the study of WMSDs, especially, attention should be paid to the comparability of similar studies. In the future, more objective and unified standards and methods need to be developed so as to facilitate the study and intervention of such disorders.