Surgery Is Physically Demanding and Associated With Multisite Musculoskeletal Pain: A Cross-Sectional Study

Tina Dalager*, Karen Søgaard, Eleanor Boyle, Pernille Tine Jensen, Ole Mogensen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Background: Performing surgery involves well-known risk factors for developing musculoskeletal pain. Multisite musculoskeletal pain has shown to have an even higher adverse impact on the individual. We examined prevalence and intensity of multisite musculoskeletal pain in surgeons and identified characteristics associated with two or more painful body sites. Materials and methods: Information on sociodemographic, work experience, work demands, health status, physical capacity, and prevalence and intensity of musculoskeletal pain were collected from an internet-based questionnaire in 284 surgeons. Descriptive statistics were used to report prevalence and intensity of musculoskeletal pain. A logistic regression model was conducted to assess the characteristics associated with multisite musculoskeletal pain. Results: Musculoskeletal pain was reported by 93% of the surgeons and 77% experienced multisite pain. The reported median pain intensities ranged from 2 to 4. Multisite musculoskeletal pain was significantly associated with being a female surgeon (OR: 3.4; 95% CI: 1.5-7.4), physical work demands (OR: 1.5 95% CI: 1.2-1.7), work ability (OR: 3.4; 95% CI: 1.6-7.0), and feeling a sense of heaviness in the head/headache (OR:4.8; 95% CI: 2.0-11.5). In addition, 21%-40% of the surgeons who experienced multisite pain reported that pain influenced their work, leisure time, and sleep negatively. Conclusions: The observed high prevalence of multisite musculoskeletal pain and high pain intensities adds new knowledge to the emerging literature on surgeons’ health. In addition, several characteristics, for example, work ability, were significantly associated with multiple pain sites. This is concerning as pain could ultimately shorten a surgeon's career. Therefore, it is pertinent to develop preventive and rehabilitating strategies.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
Pages (from-to)30-39
Publication statusPublished - 1. Aug 2019


  • Minimally invasive surgery
  • Musculoskeletal pain
  • Physical work environment
  • Surgeon pain
  • Work ability


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