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Musculoskeletal disorders and their associations with health- and work-related factors: a cross-sectional comparison between Swedish air force personnel and army soldiers
Dalarna University, School of Education, Health and Social Studies, Medical Science. Karolinska Institutet; Centre for Clinical Research Dalarna - Uppsala University, Falun.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7767-4589
2020 (English)In: BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, ISSN 1471-2474, E-ISSN 1471-2474, Vol. 21, no 1, article id 303Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

BACKGROUND: The high numbers of musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) among soldiers in the Swedish Armed Forces has led to the implementation of an effective prevention program, the musculoskeletal screening protocol (MSP), including questionnaires, physical tests and individual intervention of their MSD. A corresponding MSP for the Swedish Air Force is also needed due to earlier reported high prevalence of MSD. We therefore investigated the prevalence of MSD in Swedish Air Force personnel (AF) and compared this to Swedish Army deployed soldiers (DS). Individual, health- and work-related factors associated with MSD were also investigated.

METHODS: Cross-sectional questionnaire-based study on 166 male AF and 185 DS. AF consisted of fighter pilots, helicopter pilots and rear crew from one Swedish air base.

RESULTS: The one-year and point prevalence, respectively, of MSD were significantly higher for AF compared to DS with regard to both the upper quarter of the body (i.e. neck, shoulder and thoracic regions) (AF = 54.8 and 31.3%, DS = 26.1 and 13.6%, p = 0.01) and the lumbar region (AF = 38.0 and 18.7%, DS = 22.2 and 7.1%, p = 0.00). No significant differences were present between fighter pilots, helicopter pilots and rear crew regarding MSD prevalence. Factors significantly associated with having both upper quarter and lumbar regions MSD were group (i.e. greater odds for AF than DS) and self-reported physical health as less than excellent. Additionally, being older and taller were also factors associated with lumbar region MSD.

DISCUSSION: Despite a generally healthy lifestyle, MSD were commonly reported by AF and DS, with generally higher prevalence in AF who mainly reported MSD in the upper quarter of the body. The results from this study indicate that the MSP can be a meaningful tool to prevent MSD in air force personnel and that questions regarding general health and MSD in specific body regions should be included in screening protocols. The development of the preventive program MSP is therefore recommended for the Swedish Air Force.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2020. Vol. 21, no 1, article id 303
Keywords [en]
Army, Deployment, Fighter pilots, Helicopter pilots, Musculoskeletal injuries, Musculoskeletal pain, Rear crew
National Category
Clinical Medicine
Research subject
Health and Welfare
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:du-32893DOI: 10.1186/s12891-020-03251-zPubMedID: 32408863OAI: oai:DiVA.org:du-32893DiVA, id: diva2:1430971
Available from: 2020-05-18 Created: 2020-05-18 Last updated: 2020-05-18

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