Study objective Back injuries are a highly reported category of occupational injury in the health care setting. The daily clinical activities of an anesthesia provider, including lifting, pushing stretchers, transferring patients, and bending for procedures, are risk factors for developing low back pain. The purpose of this study is to investigate the prevalence of work related low back pain in anesthesia providers. Design/setting We conducted a cross-sectional survey study of anesthesia providers at an academic institution. Patients The target population included all 141 clinical anesthesia providers employed by the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center Department of Anesthesia. Interventions A survey study was conducted using the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), a validated scoring system for low back pain. Additional questions related to the daily activities of clinical anesthesia practice were also asked. The survey instrument underwent pretesting and clinical sensibility testing to ensure validity and consistent interpretation. Measurements The primary self-reported measures were the prevalence of low back pain in anesthesia providers and an assessment of disability based on the ODI. Secondary functional measures included the impact of low back pain on work flow. Main results Nearly half (46.6%) of respondents suffer from low back pain attributed to clinical practice. In this subset of respondents, 70.1% reported not having back pain prior to their anesthesia training. Of those with low back pain, 44% alter their work flow, and 9.8% reported missing at least one day of work. Six providers (5.3%) required surgical intervention. Using the ODI score interpretation guidelines, 46% of respondents had a “mild disability” and 2% had a “moderate disability.” Respondents reporting feeling “burned out” from their job had a significantly higher average ODI score compared to those who did not (6.8 vs 3.3, respectively; P = .01). Conclusions Nearly half of all anesthesia providers sampled suffer from low back pain subjectively attributed to their clinical practice. This leads to changes in work flow and missed days of work. The results of this study suggest a deficiency in the effectiveness of anesthesia training programs in teaching proper techniques to prevent musculoskeletal injuries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)502-506
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Clinical Anesthesia
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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