Work related musculoskeletal injuries sustained by Australian osteopaths: qualitative analysis of effects on practitioner health, clinical practice, and patient care
McLeod, GA, Annels, K, Cohen, J, Edwards, S, Hodgins, D & Vaughan, B 2017, 'Work related musculoskeletal injuries sustained by Australian osteopaths: qualitative analysis of effects on practitioner health, clinical practice, and patient care', Chiropractic & Manual Therapies, vol. 25, art. 26.
Background: There is limited literature that explores the experiences of osteopaths injured while engaging in clinical practice. Evidence from other similar health professions has described the numerous effects of work-related musculoskeletal injuries (WRMI). Work-related musculoskeletal injury refers to trauma to joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons resulting from injury sustained while undertaking work duties. This research aimed to gain a contextualised understanding of the experiences of osteopaths who have sustained a work-related musculoskeletal injury while performing clinical practice.
Method: This research used a descriptive qualitative design. Participants were recruited as part of a larger crosssectional study. Thirteen Australian osteopaths who had sustained a work-related musculoskeletal injury consented to participate in semi-structured interviews during May and June 2016. Thematic analysis was used to elicit important themes from the interview transcripts that had been recorded and transcribed verbatim. The qualitative accounts provided by the participants were coded for the impacts of their injuries on work, home life and leisure activities.
Results: The participants provided detailed, contextual information about their injuries, including the contributing factors and the experience of living with a WRMI. The findings indicate that injured osteopaths often continue working because of financial commitments and their dedication to patient care. The participants offered insights into the challenges they faced due to the injury and the management strategies they used to deal with the impact on their work and personal life. The injuries were mostly unreported, the burden being carried by the participants and their families.
Conclusion: This is the first research that explores the experiences of osteopaths who have sustained a WRMI. We anticipate that this research will encourage a broad and constructive discussion within the profession of the issues associated with WRMIs, including risk minimisation and injury prevention. Further research is warranted to understand the relationship between osteopaths training in ergonomics and injury prevention. This would lead to the development of guidelines and educational curricula addressing safe work for osteopaths.