Background: The aim of this study was to investigate effects on perceived exertion, work ability self-reported neck pain and clinically diagnosed conditions in the neck, of an intervention with prismatic spectacles among dental personnel. Methods: In this cohort study a baseline questionnaire including questions about frequency of neck pain, perceived exertion during work and background information was distributed to dental personnel in municipal dental care units. In connection, personnel from 78 out of 110 dental care units underwent a clinical neck examination and rated their perceived work ability with the single-item question from the Work Ability Index. The study population consisted of 564 participants; 366 in the questionnaire group, 321 in the examination group, whereof 123 participated in both assessments. In total 371 belonged to the intervention group and received individually adjusted prismatic spectacles after the baseline assessments (inclusion based on self-selection) and 193 belonged to the reference group. At the 12-month follow-up the clinical examination was repeated and the same questionnaire with additional questions was completed. Fisher's exact test or the Mann-Whitney U test was used to assess differences between the intervention group and the reference group at baseline. Differences at follow up between the two groups were assessed by means of Linear-by Linear association test for trends. Results: A significant decrease in neck pain (p = 0.047), clinical diagnoses in the neck (p = 0.025), and perceived exertion (p = 0.003) was observed at follow up for the intervention group compared to the reference group. Moreover, for the intervention group a significantly improved self-rated work ability (p = 0.040) was reported. Finally, opting to wear prismatic spectacles during dental work appeared to have a preventive effect on neck pain. Conclusions: Dental personnel opting to wear prismatic spectacles reduced their neck pain significantly more at follow up compared with the reference group. These results are worthwhile testing in a randomised design. The practical implication of this study is that recommendations regarding ergonomics for dental professionals may include the use of prismatic glasses, both as primary and secondary prevention of work-related neck pain. Such glasses should also be tested in other working situations where the work tasks include high visual demands in sustained awkward neck postures.
Subject classification (UKÄ)
- Environmental Health and Occupational Health