Background/Purpose: Our study addressed dental hygienist's musculoskeletal concerns by investigating the effectiveness of an established stretching/strengthening Posturedontics® course that seeks to educate dental hygienists on health-enhancing work behaviors. In order to gather information regarding pre-test and post-test pain levels and pain-reducing behaviors among participants a survey tool consisting of visual analogue scales and questions was used.
Subjects: A total of 80 (course n = 30, control n = 50) dental hygienists were included in the study.
Results: Using Two-Way Mixed ANOVA with repeated measures, statistical significance was found in the following body regions over time for the course participants: right arm (pre = 1.1 cm ± 1.1, post = .89 cm ± .80, p = .02), right hand (pre = 1.2 cm ± 1.0, post = 1.0 cm ± 1.0, p =.04) and left arm (pre = 1.1 cm ± 1.0, post = .80 cm ± .81, P = .03). Chi Square analysis with Yates' correction for continuity was used to determine if the Posturedontics® course created behavior changes among course participants as compared to the control group. A statistically significant difference was found for the course attendees and control group between pre-test and post-test responses for four Likert scale questions, which indicated an increased frequency of these behaviors among both groups. McNemar's Chi Square statistical procedure indicated that there was a statistically significant difference among course attendees (pre and post test) for the following survey question: Does your chair have armrests? (6) 3.84 critical value). A statistically significant difference was seen in the control group for the following question: Do you use a tilting seat pan? (5 > 3.84 critical value).
Discussion: The results of this study reveal preliminary benefits of an educational course, Posuturedontics®, in reducing pain ratings of upper extremities primarily among dental hygienists. Given more time between education and follow up research, further resolution of WMSD that have developed over the years may become apparent. Results of this study must be interpreted with caution, however, since the two groups were not homogeneous with respect to baseline pain levels. Therefore, we cannot be confident that these differences observed were due only to the intervention. Future research in this area is recommended and would likely benefit from a randomized study with a longer follow up period.
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