The problem of lower back pain in nursing staff and its effect on human activity

Summary The physical and technical difficulties involved in the work of nursing staff often lead to the occurrence of problems, the reasons for which are not easy to identify and clarify, and even more difficult to articulate. Purpose: The purpose of the present study was to examine the relation between lower back pain and manifestations of human activity and behavior. Material and Method: The sample consisted of nurses working in two hospitals of Central Greece. Collection of the sample commenced in April of 2006 and was completed within three months. Before respondents agreed to participate, they were informed about the purpose of the study. Data were collected during their working hours by completing the questionnaires of the American Pain Society Scale, according to which pain levels are measured in individuals. The questionnaires were anonymus . The questionnaire consisted of three parts. The first part included questions aiming at collecting demographic data, the second part included 15 questions focusing at investigating the existence and the attitude towards the problem, technics about weight lifting, moving ant transferring load and the third part included the American Pain Society Scale. Results: 120 questionnaires were collected in total, of approximately 150 distributed to nursing staff at two hospitals in Central Greece. 40% of the sample replied that they have experienced lower back pain. The values of the Mann-Whitney p-value test showed that the influence of pain on human relations and sleep is systematically higher than on other activities. The values of the Kruskall-Wallis p-value test showed that the activities of nursing staff under the influence of pain following injury to the lumbar spine, do not differ according to gender and are independent of the level of education of the population under study. Subjects’ emotional disposition would seem to be influenced by pain and it is the only parameter which varies according to age. Human activity is influenced by pain to the same degree regardless of the rank of the nurses who made up the population examined in this study. All tests are significant when p-value is less than 0,005. The overwhelming majority of the individuals involved were 30-41 years of age and employed as hospital ward nurses. With respect to their level of education, it should be pointed out that a mere 2.5% of the sample had completed only basic training. Conclusions: Efforts to improve the problem of the relation of pain to activity in nursing staff can be focused in two main directions, including intervention on an individual level and changes on an organizational level on the part of the employer. Coordinating these two principal directions can lead to a progressive reduction of the problem. However, there is a plethora of obstacles to be overcomed due mainly to the nature of the work of the population under study.

Author(s): Roupa Zoe

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