A comparative analysis on musculoskeletal disorders between Greek and Dutch nursing personnel
Objective: To analyse cross-cultural differences between Greek and Dutch nursing personnel in association with the risk factors and occurrence and consequences (absenteeism and medical care seeking) of musculoskeletal disorders. Methods: This study was based on questionnaire surveys among 393 nurses and caregivers in nursing homes and homes for the elderly in The Netherlands and among 351 nurses in general hospitals in Athens, Greece. Logistic regression analysis was used to analyse associations between physical and psychosocial workload, need for recovery, perceived general health and (1) the occurrence of musculoskeletal complaints in the past 12 months, (2) chronic complaints during at least 3 months, and (3) complaints which led to sickness absence and medical care seeking. Results: Greek nurses reported significantly more back complaints in the past 12 months (75 vs. 62%) than the Dutch workers, but chronicity (11 vs. 12%) and sickness absence (17 vs. 15%) of these complaints did not differ. Similar differences were observed for neck complaints but not for shoulder complaints. Most Greek nurses with back complaints visited a medical specialist (40%) while Dutch nurses and caregivers sought care through a general practitioner (33%). Multivariate analyses showed that in both countries strenuous back postures (ORs 1.9 and 1.9) and especially a moderate general health (ORs 4.3 and 2.9) were the significant risk factors for back pain. Conclusions: In both countries similar risk factors were associated with the occurrence of low-back pain. Cross-national differences were less important for the risk factors and musculoskeletal complaints than for the consequences of these complaints and for medical care seeking.