Musculoskeletal disorders in aged care workers: a systematic review of contributing factors and interventions
Background There is limited evidence on contributing factors and effective interventions for musculoskeletal injuries in aged care workers. Purpose To systematically review the factors that contribute to musculoskeletal disorder risk amongst workers in the aged care industry, and to undertake a qualitative comparison of the interventions designed and implemented to prevent injury within this workforce. Methods A systematic review of the literature was conducted in Web of Science, Scopus, ProQuest, Medline, and PubMed. Relevant grey literature was also examined. Articles that reported factors that contribute to musculoskeletal injuries, or interventions to prevent and manage musculoskeletal injuries in residential aged care workers were included. Findings Of the 864 articles and 35 grey literature publications found, 63 and 29 were included in the review respectively. Results indicate that physical factors such as manual handling of people, use of assistive devices, and physical work environment are most commonly associated with musculoskeletal disorders in this population. Limited evidence of organisational and psychosocial factors considered staffing issues, work schedules, and violence. The heavy emphasis on physical factors is echoed in the grey literature in relevant guidance material and codes of practice focused on assessment and control of risks. There was limited evidence for interventions specific to aged care; existing evidence focused on equipment, training and education, policy and procedure. Interventions incorporating a combination of approaches, such as equipment and training, showed promise while preliminary evidence of the effectiveness of participatory approaches are positive. Discussion Interventions which address multiple types of contributing factors are needed to adequately prevent musculoskeletal injuries in aged care workers.