Predictors of Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders among Primary School Teachers in Machakos County, Kenya
Ndawa, Ancent Ndonye
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Musculoskeletal disorders refer to a broad range degenerative and inflammatory conditions that affect the joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons, bones, nerves, and the localized blood circulation system. Despite there being significant literature about musculoskeletal disorders among teachers in other parts of the world, Kenya lags behind in research this area. The current studies point out to high workloads and stress levels among primary school teachers following an increase in the teacher-pupil ratio. These are among the correlates of musculoskeletal disorders, suggesting an underlying problem worth exploring. The objective of this study is to determine the prevalence and person and work-related predictors of musculoskeletal disorders among Kenyan primary school teachers in Machakos County. The specific objectives of the study were: to determine the prevalence of Musculoskeletal Disorders among primary school teachers in Machakos County, to explore the person related predictors of musculoskeletal disorders and to explore the work-related predictors of musculoskeletal disorders. A cross-sectional design was used to collect data from 302 randomly selected teachers. The data was collected using a questionnaire and an observation checklist. It was analyzed using chi-square and logistic regression analysis and expressed as odds ratio. The prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders at any site of the body was 85.10% with lower back, knees, neck, and ankles being the most affected body sites at 58.60%, 57.6%, 53.3%, and 53% respectively. The least affected body part was the elbows at 25.2%. Neck musculoskeletal disorders were associated with being between 40 and 45 years (p=0.02) and over 50 years (p=0.01), and teaching while standing (p=0.01). Shoulder musculoskeletal disorders were associated with being between 45and 49 years and being over 50 years (p<0.01 for each), teaching while standing for 2-3 hours and for over 4 hours (p=0.03 and 0.01 respectively). Elbow musculoskeletal disorders were associated with being over 50 years (p=0.01). Musculoskeletal disorders of the knees were associated with lack of back support on chairs (p<0.01). Wrists/hands musculoskeletal disorders were associated with being over 50 years and teaching while standing (p=0.01 for both). Low back musculoskeletal disorders were significantly associated with being between 30-34 years (p=0.01), 35-39 years (p=0.01), 40-44 years (p<0.01) and being over 50 years (p<0.01). Musculoskeletal disorders of the ankles were significantly associated with working on a head-down posture (p=0.01). MSDs interfered with teachers’ ability their normal activities with lower back MSDs being the most prominent at 23.8%. This study reveals that musculoskeletal disorders are very common among primary school teachers in Machakos County, Kenya. The nature of the risk factors is diverse, calling for measures to reduce the notably high prevalence of MSDs, their progression, and burden.