Original Research

Survey of back and neck pain in South African ophthalmologists

Craig D. Anderson, Aubrey Makgotloe, Karen Koetsie, André Rose
African Vision and Eye Health | Vol 80, No 1 | a616 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/aveh.v80i1.616 | © 2021 Craig D. Anderson | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 24 September 2020 | Published: 04 February 2021

About the author(s)

Craig D. Anderson, Division of Ophthalmology, Department of Neurosciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Aubrey Makgotloe, Division of Ophthalmology, Department of Neurosciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Karen Koetsie, Department of Ophthalmology, Yeovil Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Yeovil, United Kingdom
André Rose, Centre for Health Systems Research & Development, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Back and neck pain are common in the general population and a common occupational condition. Occupationally related back and neck pain is common amongst ophthalmologists.

Aim: The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of back and neck pain amongst South African ophthalmologists.

Setting: This was a survey that was conducted amongst South African ophthalmologists (n = 324) and ophthalmologists-in-training (n = 115).

Methods: The response rate was 44.8% (n = 197). There was no sampling and a hyperlink to an electronic questionnaire, hosted on the REDCap survey platform, was sent to 440 potential respondents. A descriptive analysis was carried out using STATA version 15. Ethical approval was obtained from the University of Witwatersrand.

Results: Mean age was 47.1 years (standard deviation [s.d.] ± 12.1) and 62 (31.5%) women. The cohort was stratified into specialists (n = 81, 41.1%), subspecialists (n = 75, 38.1%) and ophthalmologists-in-training (n = 41, 20.8%). Most of the participants (n = 156, 79.2%) were qualified ophthalmologists. Respondents reported current back pain (n = 124, 62.9%), lower back pain (n = 66, 33.5%) and neck pain (n = 76, 38.6%). The overall median pain rating (on a scale from 1 to 10) was 4. Respondents reported mild pain (n = 71, 36%) and severe pain (n = 35, 17.7%). Operating and using a slit lamp were pain aggravating factors in 36% (n = 71) and 37.1% (n = 73), respectively.

Conclusion: Back and neck pain are prevalent amongst South African ophthalmologists and comparable to other ophthalmologists worldwide.


Keywords

age; gender; height; job capacity; subspecialty; hours spent working; and specific questions about back and neck pain

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