JICDRO is a UGC approved journal (Journal no. 63927)

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Year : 2018  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 65-70

Assessment of knowledge of ergonomics among preclinical undergraduate students: A cross-sectional study

Department of Prosthodontics and Implantology, VSPM Dental College and Research Centre, Nagpur, Maharashtra, India

Date of Web Publication31-Dec-2018

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Chetana Rambhad
61-B, Chinchmalatpure Nagar, Green Planet Colony, Near Omkar Nagar, Manewada, Nagpur - 440 027, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jicdro.jicdro_12_18

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Background: As there is an increase in issue identified as musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in the field of dentistry, dental specialists are unconscious of this until the point when they encounter. Hence, it should be included in the curriculum of preclinical undergraduate students to make them aware and to adopt preventive measures to avoid them. Aim: The aim of the present study was to assess the knowledge of ergonomics in preclinical undergraduate students. Materials and Methods: The study conducted was questionnaire based with 100 participants, who are BDS II-year students performing prosthodontics preclinical exercises. The participant was approached through a printed questionnaire which included the purpose of the study followed by informed consent. Results: Our study revealed that students were experiencing pain and discomfort during preclinical exercises. And, they were aware of the fact that it was due to incorrect working postures. However, they did not know the precautionary measures to be taken to avoid this problem, and they were keen in learning the correct working measures. Eighty-five percent of students thought that it should be included in the curriculum, and professors should decide the same. Conclusion: There is a strong relation between the incorrect working posture and the MSDs. As 51% of students experienced pain and discomfort during preclinical classes in our study, it is necessary to include the knowledge of ergonomics in the curriculum and practice of the same.

Keywords: Dentistry, ergonomics, musculoskeletal disorders, occupational health, students

How to cite this article:
Rambhad C, Pande N, Radke U. Assessment of knowledge of ergonomics among preclinical undergraduate students: A cross-sectional study. J Int Clin Dent Res Organ 2018;10:65-70

How to cite this URL:
Rambhad C, Pande N, Radke U. Assessment of knowledge of ergonomics among preclinical undergraduate students: A cross-sectional study. J Int Clin Dent Res Organ [serial online] 2018 [cited 2021 Jul 31];10:65-70. Available from: https://www.jicdro.org/text.asp?2018/10/2/65/249133

   Introduction Top

A definitive link between fixed postures and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) including pain, weakness, and paresthesia has been documented for a number of occupations.[1] Ergonomics in dentistry is defined as reduction in cognitive and physical stress, preventing occupational diseases, thereby improving efficiency with better quality and greater comfort for both the practitioners and patients.[2] Dentistry is a profession that generally produces muscular pain and soreness which are innocuous and slow to appear. As a result, the symptoms are usually ignored until they become chronic.[1]

MSDs of the upper limbs are one of the most frequent occupational problems among dental health-care workers and have psychological and social in addition to physical consequences. When they reach a certain level of severity, they directly affect a person's ability to work, causing absenteeism, and even early retirements.[3],[4],[5],[6] Dental students are also at a high risk of developing these disorders,[5],[7],[8],[9],[10],[11] mainly owing to the deleterious postural habits they acquired during professional training.

The risk of developing work-related MSDs (WMSDs) in the dental field can be minimized by applying ergonomic principles. Ergonomics is an applied science concerned with workers and their relationship to their occupational environment. Lately, ergonomics has become popularly implied and adopted to maintain the health of workers and improve the overall performance. Work-related hazards can be reduced effectively using a comprehensive approach, which includes educating workers with proper postures and techniques, adopting and applying suitable ergonomic strategies, and use of ergonomic equipment.[12]

Although the high prevalence of WMSDs among dentists and dental students is evident in the literature, how early WMSDs start to manifest and whether preclinical students are also at high risk is not thoroughly investigated and established yet.[13] Therefore, the aim of our study was to assess the knowledge of ergonomics in preclinical undergraduate students.

   Materials and Methods Top

The questionnaire study was carried out on the sample size of 100 students studying in II-year undergraduate program in dentistry at VSPM Dental College and Research Centre, Nagpur.

The inclusion criteria were II-year BDS students who volunteered to participate in the study. The exclusion criteria were students having a history of chronic lumber pain and MSDs, those who performed other activities which required forced posture, and history of fracture in the ribs and vertebrae.

Data collection was carried out using a structured questionnaire. The questionnaire comprised questions regarding the knowledge of correct working posture, their interest in learning the correct working postures and importance of practicing correct working posture in preclinics, the need to teach correct working posture in dentistry and should it be included in the curriculum, their experience related to pain and discomfort while working and will it cause harm in long run in dental practice and “ergonomics” as a term for the correct working posture.

   Results Top

  • Knowledge related to correct working posture [Graph 1] and [Table 1]: When students were asked about this question, their 45% of students were aware of it, 11% were unaware, and 44% were having little knowledge about working posture but were not sure
  • Student's interest in learning and practicing the correct working posture [Graph 2] and [Table 2]: 93% of students said yes. Majority of students were interested in learning right working posture
  • Adopting correct posture in preclinics [Graph 3] and [Table 3]: When they were asked about adopting the correct working posture is important, 95% of students said yes to it
  • Necessity to teach correct working posture in classes [Graph 4] and [Table 4]: 95% of students thought that it is necessary to teach correct working posture during the preclinical classes, so that they would be able to analyze themselves regarding the problem
  • Include correct working posture as preclinical separate subject [Graph 5] and [Table 5]: When they were asked regarding their opinion to include ergonomic education in preclinical subject, 86% of students agreed to it
  • Regarding any pain and discomfort during preclinical work [Graph 6] and [Table 6]: 51% of students said yes and 41% of students said they sometimes experience pain. However, it was confirmed that students experienced some kind of discomfort during preclinical work
  • Correlation between incorrect sitting posture and experienced pain [Graph 7] and [Table 7]: 90% of students thought that there is a correlation between incorrect sitting posture during working and experienced pain
  • Knowledge of correct working posture to reduce pain and discomfort [Graph 8] and [Table 8]: 92% of students thought that correct working posture will help reduce pain and discomfort during working.
  • Incorrect working posture to cause harm to body and affect dental practice [Graph 9] and [Table 9]: 77% of students thought that incorrect working posture will cause harm to body and affect their dental practice in long run. However, 19% of students thought that maybe it will affect dental practice
  • Correct working posture called as ergonomics [Graph 10] and [Table 10]: At the end of questionnaire, students were asked about the terminology of incorrect working posture, 91% of students knew the word ergonomics.

Table 1: Result Q-1: Do you know what the correct working posture is?

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Table 2: Result Q-2: Do you want to learn and practice the right working posture?

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Table 3: Result Q-3: Do you think that adopting correct posture in pre clinics is important?

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Table 4: Result Q-4: Do you consider it necessary to be taught in dentistry correct working posture while you study?

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Table 5: Result Q-5: Is it possible to include correct working posture education in preclinical subject?

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Table 6: Result Q-6: Do you experience any pain or discomfort while doing preclinical work?

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Table 7: Result Q-7: Do you think is there any correlation between incorrect sitting posture during working and experienced pain?

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Table 8: Result Q-8: Do you think knowledge of correct working posture will help you to reduce pain and discomfort?

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Table 9: Result Q-9: Do you think incorrect working posture will cause harm to your body and affect your dental practice in long run?

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Table 10: Result Q-10: What correct working posture called as?

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   Discussion Top

The current study assessed the knowledge of ergonomics among a group of undergraduate dental students in their preclinical levels. The adoption of an ergonomic work posture during professional training should be encouraged because it can reduce the risk of the development of MSDs. Nevertheless, dental students frequently neglect to adopt this posture. Thus, knowledge of ergonomics is important in preventing the establishment of harmful habits during the students' academic training.

Many studies had revealed a positive relationship between rigid posture and MSDs in different professions which could include pain, weakness, and paresthesia. Rayyan et al. stated that the prevalence of MSDs increased among dental students during their preclinical training even before going to clinics.[13] Dentists are normally included within the group of professionals at risk of suffering MSDs, due to prolonged awkward and forced postures at work and failure to adopt preventive measures. Forced postures are frequently adopted by the dental students leading to physiologic alteration and MSDs which generate back and neck pain.

Our study revealed that students were experiencing pain and discomfort during preclinical exercises. And, they were aware of the fact that it was due to incorrect working postures. Some of them were aware of the term correct working postures whereas some of them were not aware, but they did not know what the correct working posture is. Even it was found out in our study that the students were interested in learning the proper working posture and it should be included in the curriculum right from the preclinical classes. Learning the proper working posture would help reduce the pain and discomfort. It was found that the students were of opinion that learning this would not only help reduce pain but also will be helpful in long run for their future clinical practice during clinical postings as well as professional working places.

This suggests the need for a discipline that provides lectures on ergonomics in dentistry, both in theory and, from the beginning, in practice of the students' manual skills in the dental laboratory. This practical training must be performed to prevent the adoption of postural vices in the preclinical stage, as the earlier the establishment of poor posture, the more difficult it is to eliminate them.

   Conclusion Top

Work-related MSD is an increasing problem in many occupations. Dentistry involves clinical procedures to be performed on patients, which require continuous sitting and standing position. During the procedures, many ignore the working posture and position, which leads to postural imbalance. This causes pain and discomfort in upper and lower back, neck region, arms, and finally to MSDs. Before treating real patients, dental students have to be adequately trained for dental procedures on a manikin.[13] Every day, II-year BDS students are involved more in preclinical work requiring at least 8 h/week in conservative and prosthetic preclinical laboratories. Habits developed during preclinical training usually continue with students as they proceed with their clinical training. Therefore, it is necessary to include knowledge of ergonomics and its deleterious effect in the curriculum. Early knowledge will be an initiative to prevent future problems, and students will be exposed to its consequences. They will be able to assess themselves. Early practice of ergonomics will help them in long run as they will continue to practice the same in their clinical practice. Ergonomics not only benefits professional's health but also increases work efficiency, in clinics.


We thank all the preclinical staff members of the department of prosthodontics, for their support during the preclinical sessions of the study. We also thank the students who have participated in this study with their full enthusiasm.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

   References Top

Kumar RV, Anuroopa P, Nalini MS, Savita S. Prevalence of musculoskeletal pain and assessment of ergonomics factor in under graduate dental students: An observational study. J Health Sci Res 2014;5:1-5.  Back to cited text no. 1
Siddiqui T, Aisha W, Owais K, Mohsin K, Farjad Z. Assessment of knowledge, practice, and work environment related to ergonomics among dental students and dental practitioners. Int J Contemp Dent Med 2016;1-5.  Back to cited text no. 2
Oberg T, Oberg U. Musculoskeletal complaints in dental hygiene: A survey study from a Swedish county. J Dent Hyg 1993;67:257-61.  Back to cited text no. 3
Morse TF, Michalak-Turcotte C, Atwood-Sanders M, Warren N, Peterson DR, Bruneau H, et al. A pilot study of hand and arm musculoskeletal disorders in dental hygiene students. J Dent Hyg 2003;77:173-9.  Back to cited text no. 4
de Carvalho MV, Soriano EP, de França Caldas A Jr., Campello RI, de Miranda HF, Cavalcanti FI, et al. Work-related musculoskeletal disorders among Brazilian dental students. J Dent Educ 2009;73:624-30.  Back to cited text no. 5
Ding H, Solovieva S, Vehmas T, Takala EP, Leino-Arjas P. Hand osteoarthritis and pinch grip strength among middle-aged female dentists and teachers. Scand J Rheumatol 2010;39:84-7.  Back to cited text no. 6
Rising DW, Bennett BC, Hursh K, Plesh O. Reports of body pain in a dental student population. J Am Dent Assoc 2005;136:81-6.  Back to cited text no. 7
Lindfors P, von Thiele U, Lundberg U. Work characteristics and upper extremity disorders in female dental health workers. J Occup Health 2006;48:192-7.  Back to cited text no. 8
Thornton LJ, Barr AE, Stuart-Buttle C, Gaughan JP, Wilson ER, Jackson AD, et al. Perceived musculoskeletal symptoms among dental students in the clinic work environment. Ergonomics 2008;51:573-86.  Back to cited text no. 9
Horton SJ, Johnstone CL, Hutchinson CM, Taylor PA, Wade KJ. Clinical working postures of bachelor of oral health students. N Z Dent J 2011;107:74-8.  Back to cited text no. 10
Garcia PP, Pinelli C, Derceli JR, Campos JA. Musculoskeletal disorders in upper limbs in dental students: Exposure level to risk factors. Braz J Oral Sci 2012;11:148-53.  Back to cited text no. 11
Corrocher PA, Presoto CD, Campos JA, Garcia PP. The association between restorative pre-clinical activities and musculoskeletal disorders. Eur J Dent Educ 2014;18:142-6.  Back to cited text no. 12
Mohammad RR, Salam CH, Ruba FA, Hana AT, Alma DA, Lina HM, et al. Work-related musculoskeletal disorders among dental students of different academic levels. J Int Oral Health 2016;8:471-5.  Back to cited text no. 13


  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5], [Table 6], [Table 7], [Table 8], [Table 9], [Table 10]


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