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Keywords:

  • flight attendant;
  • lower back;
  • nursing;
  • occupational health;
  • psychosocial factors;
  • questionnaire;
  • workforce issues;
  • work-related musculoskeletal disorders

Abstract

Title. Psychosocial risk factors for work-related musculoskeletal disorders of the lower-back among long-haul international female flight attendants

Aim.  This paper is a report of a study to examine the relationships between work-related psychosocial factors and lower-back work-related musculoskeletal disorders among long-haul international female flight attendants.

Background.  Recent attention has focused on the influence of work-related psychosocial factors on work-related musculoskeletal disorders. To date, however, little is known about the influence of psychosocial factors at work on lower back work-related musculoskeletal disorders in female flight attendants.

Method.  A cross-sectional, mailed survey was conducted in 2004 with flight attendants in one major airline who were randomly selected from a union membership list. The work-related psychosocial factors included psychological job demand, decision latitude, social support, job insecurity, and external environmental concerns. Physical load was defined by overall strenuousness across 41 job tasks and measured by a 4-point scale of strenuousness. Lower-back work-related musculoskeletal disorders were defined as lower-back symptoms that occurred at least once a month or lasted at least 1 week in the past year and caused at least moderate pain.

Findings.  The flight attendants with lower back work-related musculoskeletal disorders, compared with those without lower-back work-related musculoskeletal disorders, had higher perceived psychological job demands, job insecurity, and physical load. After controlling for physical load and personal factors, high job insecurity significantly increased the risk for lower-back work-related musculoskeletal disorders.

Conclusion.  Occupational health nurses in the airline industry should be cognizant of the importance of assessing the influence of both job tasks and work-related psychosocial factors on lower-back work-related musculoskeletal disorders.