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Musculoskeletal dysfunction in physical education teachers


OBJECTIVES To investigate the prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders, especially symptomatic osteoarthrosis (OA) of the knee and hip, health and lifestyle factors among physical education (PE) teachers, and whether they differed from the general population in these respects.

METHODS The study base was all Swedish men (n=290) and women (n=281) who graduated from the only training college for PE teachers in Sweden, between the years 1957 and 1965, and age matched referents, 255 men and 257 women, randomly selected from the Swedish population register. A postal questionnaire was sent to the subjects with questions on occupational history, participation in sports, musculoskeletal disorders, height, weight, smoking habits, and general health.

RESULTS The PE teachers had a higher prevalence ratio (PR) of symptomatic OA of the knee (men: 2.8 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.6 to 4.8; women: 3.2 95% CI 1.8 to 5.5) and knee injury compared with the referents. The PE teachers reported more absence from work, and the women had had to change jobs more often because of knee disorders. The prevalence ratio for symptomatic OA of the hip was 2.7 (95% CI 1.0 to 7.1) for the female PE teachers. At the age of 25 the body mass index (BMI) of male PE teachers was higher than the male referents, but at an older age both the female and male PE teachers had lower BMI than the referents. The participation in sports activities was considerably higher in the group of PE teachers. They also smoked less, reported less serious diseases, and better health than the referents.

CONCLUSIONS The PE teachers had a high risk of developing knee disorders, which entailed difficulties in continuing their work as PE teachers. They differed from the referents in lifestyle factors as they smoked less, were less overweight, and had a higher lifelong sports exposure.

  • body mass index
  • hip osteoarthrosis
  • knee osteoarthrosis

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