Musculoskeletal Disorders and Health Behaviors among US Workers

Project: Research project

Project Details


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) include a wide range of inflammatory and degenerative conditions and they constitute a major proportion of all reported and/or compensable work-related diseases contributing to substantial numbers of lost work days and medical care utilization in the United States. MSDs have multiple and inter-connected risk factors, both occupational and non-occupational, such as repetitive trauma, obesity, smoking, and physical activity. While the relationship between MSDs and work-related injuries has been comprehensively characterized, examination of worker health behaviors using a large nationally representative population database has not been studied. Using the 1997-2007 National Health Interview Survey and the 1996-2007 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey the following Specific Aims and Hypotheses will be examined: 1. Document and compare the prevalence, trends, and geographical variation of specific musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) for all US workers, youth workers and older workers by occupation/industry, age, gender, race, and ethnicity. 2. Assess the relationship between worker health behaviors (physical activity patterns, obesity, alcohol use, and tobacco exposure) with reported musculoskeletal disorders by occupation and National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) Industry sector. 3. Estimate the health-related quality of life effects of having musculoskeletal disorders using Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALYS) by occupation and NORA Industry sector. Examining the under-explored associations between US Worker occupation, health behaviors (physical activity patterns, obesity, and tobacco exposure), health-related quality of life, economic impact and geographical location of musculoskeletal disorders is paramount to our understanding of their current and potential future impact on the health care and public health systems. As older adults remain in or re-enter the workforce in the coming years, worksite-based health promotion of ergonomic and musculoskeletal disorders will become an increasingly important venue for reaching older and newly entering working adults. Although little research has been completed in this area, it is the goal of this Minority F31 Application to examine these associations that inform workplace strategies to meet the unique needs of worker populations at-risk for musculoskeletal disorders. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: As a non-traditional degree seeking DO/PhD student, my overall career goal is to develop into a well-rounded physician-scientist. I am interested in developing a career in musculoskeletal epidemiology with a particular focus on ergonomic and occupational risk factors including health-related quality of life measures. As an epidemiologist, I am also interested in the development of primary and secondary prevention programs to increase awareness of the rheumatic contributions to the morbidity and mortality of musculoskeletal disorders. The Kirschstein-NRSA F31 Individual Fellowship for Minority students will serve as a platform for me to develop a productive career in academic rheumatology and epidemiology, with an emphasis on investigating factors that are associated with musculoskeletal disorders in large populations. During this fellowship, with the assistance of my mentors, Drs Lora Fleming, David Lee and Robert Hoffman, I will garner many valuable skills and applications of epidemiology and musculoskeletal disorders. First, I will learn how to use data from large publically available datasets to examine musculoskeletal disorders. Secondly, I will learn to reconstruct data, select pertinent variables, and conduct data analyses using advanced statistical software packages. Lastly, I will develop an in-depth knowledge of occupational health and musculoskeletal disorders from both a clinical and epidemiologic point of view. This NRSA minority student fellowship training will enable me to expand my knowledge and skills needed in the fields of musculoskeletal and occupational epidemiology.
Effective start/end date9/1/096/29/11


  • National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases: $39,265.00
  • National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases: $41,176.00


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