Open Access Database

Risk of musculoskeletal disorder among Taiwanese nurses cohort: a nationwide population-based study

Yueh-Chin Chung12, Chin-Tun Hung3, Shu-Fen Li3, Horng-Mo Lee4, Shyang-Guang Wang4, Shu-Chuan Chang2, Lee-Wen Pai2, Chien-Ning Huang15 and Jen-Hung Yang6*

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Medicine, Chung Shan Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan

2 Department of Nursing, Central Taiwan University of Science and Technology, Taichung, Taiwan

3 Department of Healthcare Administration, Central Taiwan University of Science and Technology, Taichung, Taiwan

4 Institute of Pharmaceutical Science and Technology; Department of Medical Laboratory Science and Biotechnology, Central Taiwan University of Science and Technology, Taichung, Taiwan

5 Department of Internal Medicine, Chung Shan Medical University Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan

6 College of Medicine, Tzu Chi University; Department of Dermatology, Buddhist Tzu Chi General Hospital, Taiwan, No.701, Zhongyang Rd., Sec.3, Hualien, 97004, Taiwan

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BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2013, 14:144  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-14-144

Published: 23 April 2013



Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) represent the leading causes of occupational injuries among nursing staff. This population-based study was designed to assess the incidence and age-specific incidence of MSDs among a Taiwanese nurse cohort compared with non-nurses.


Data from the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database were used to identify MSDs in the study population. A total of 3914 nurses with a diagnosis of MSD were included, together with 11,744 non-nurses as a comparison group. The comparison subjects were randomly selected at a ratio of 3:1 relative to the nurse population and were matched by gender and age. The incidence of MSDs was calculated for the study group, with nurse-to-reference risk ratios presented as odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals (CIs). During the period 2004–2010, 3004 MSDs occurred among the nurses (76.24%) and 7779 (65.79%) in the non-nurses. The annual incidence of MSDs for the nurses increased from 28.35% in 2006 to 33.65% in 2010. The nurse-to-reference risk ratio was 1.27 (95% CI 1.19–1.35) in 2004 and 1.46 (1.37–1.55) in 2010. Herniation of intervertebral disc, lumbago, rotator cuff syndrome, medial epicondylitis, trigger finger and carpal tunnel syndrome were the most common problems.


Nurses are at higher risk of MSDs and the trend is increasing. Incorrect work-related posture/movement, psychological issues and the rolling shift system may be the major causes of MSDs among nurses in Taiwan.

Musculoskeletal disorders; Nurses; Low back pain; Epidemiology; Incidence