Emotional Distress as a Predictor of Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders in Malaysian Nursing Professionals

Nur Azma Amin, Kia Fatt Quek, Jennifer Anne Oxley, Rahim Noah, Rusli Nordin


Background: Emotional distress is becoming a great concern and is more common in both developed and developing countries. It is associated with several disease conditions.

Objective: To determine the prevalence of self-perceived emotional distress and its relation to work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WRMSDs) in nurses.

Methods: A self-administered questionnaire survey was carried out on 660 female nurses working in public hospitals in the Klang Valley, Malaysia. The validated Malay version of the standardized Nordic musculoskeletal questionnaire (M-SNMQ) was used to identify the annual prevalence of WRMSDs; perceived emotional distress was assessed using the validated Malay short version, depression, anxiety, and stress (M-DASS) instrument. In addition, socio-demographic and occupational profiles of the participants were considered. Factors associated with WRMSDs were identified using logistic regression analysis.

Results: A total of 376 nurses completed the survey (response rate 83.3%). 73.1% of the nursing staffs experienced WRMSDs in at least one anatomical site 12 months prior to the study. 75% of nurses expressed emotional distress. Of these, over half also reported anxiety and stress. Multiple logistic regression analysis showed that stress and anxiety significantly increased the risk of WRMSDs by approximately twofold.

Conclusion: There were significant associations between emotional distress and WRMSDs. Future longitudinal studies are therefore needed to investigate and identify the sources of emotional distress (non-occupational and occupational) to be used to establish preventive strategies to reduce the risk of WRMSDs.


Stress, psychological; Musculoskeletal diseases; Occupational diseases; Nurses; Malaysia

doi: 10.15171/ijoem.2018.1158

 pISSN: 2008-6520
 eISSN: 2008-6814

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