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Vol. 70, No. 5
ISSN: 1488-2159
May 2004


Upper Body Musculoskeletal Symptoms in Sardinian Dental Students


• Marcello Melis, DMD, RPharm •
• Youssef S. Abou-Atme, DDS, MS •
• Luca Cottogno, •
• Roberta Pittau, DMD •

A b s t r a c t

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine how early in a dental career musculoskeletal problems develop, by comparing the prevalence of such symptoms in a dental student population in Sardinia (Italy), a control sample of psychology students from the same university and a sample of dental students in Lebanon.

Methods: One hundred and fourteen dental students from the University of Cagliari (Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy) were surveyed by questionnaire about the presence of several upper body symptoms. Their responses were compared with those of 2 different populations: 114 psychology students from the same university, matched for age and sex, and 178 dental students from the University of Saint Joseph (Beirut, Lebanon). The psychology students were chosen for comparison because of the general dissimilarity of their daily activity to that of dentists.

Results: The Italian and Lebanese dental students did not differ with regard to presence of symptoms. The Italian dental students differed from the psychology students in just one respect, with the dental students reporting more lower back pain. Headache was the most prevalent symptom in all 3 groups and was more prevalent among women; however, this difference between the sexes did not reach statistical significance for the psychology students.

Conclusions: The appearance of musculoskeletal symptoms among dental students, even after a relatively short clinical training period, suggests that ergonomics should be covered in the educational system to reduce risks to dental practitioners.


MeSH Key Words: back pain/epidemiology; headache; muscular diseases; occupational diseases/epidemiology
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