Musculoskeletal Symptoms Among Adult Smartphone and Tablet Device Users | Abstract
Journal of Ergonomics

Journal of Ergonomics
Open Access

ISSN: 2165-7556


Musculoskeletal Symptoms Among Adult Smartphone and Tablet Device Users

Ella Thorburn, Rodney Pop, Shaoyu Wang

The use of handheld devices (smartphones and tablet devices) can result in various postural and musculoskeletal disorders, predominantly of the neck and upper extremities. However, factors that contribute to the symptoms are not adequately explored. The current research aimed to investigate the prevalence and patterns (e.g. types, sites and temporal distributions) of musculoskeletal symptoms among adult smartphone and tablet device users. It also investigated device usage in terms of usage time, postures adopted during use, operational methods and purposes of device use in order to explain the symptom occurrences. Participants from eastern states of Australia reported their device usage and symptoms during two-week period via an online survey. Of the 207 participants, 59.9% reported musculoskeletal symptoms during or after device use; for 64.5% of these, symptoms began within the first 30 minutes (mostly between 15-30 minutes) of commencing usage. No statistically significant difference between smartphone-only users and tablet device users in proportions reporting symptoms during device use (χ2=.350, N=207, p=.554). The most prevalent symptom was stiffness (29.4% of symptomatic smartphone-only users and 29.6% of symptomatic tablet users). The most prevalent symptom occurred in the neck (18.1% in smartphone-only users and 19.3% in tablet device users). Tablet users who were 18-24 year-old and used their device for more than 30 minutes in each usage session more often experienced symptoms (82.4% prevalence) than those who used for 30 minutes or less (52.2%) (χ2=4.723, N=63, p=.030). Findings of this study suggest that user age, duration and frequency of usage, and type of devices are the important factors to consider in the formation of evidence-based guidelines to promote safe usage of smartphone and tablet devices. Particularly, if usage was capped at<15 minutes, majority of smartphone and tablet device users would avoid symptoms.

Published Date: 2021-03-15; Received Date: 2021-02-22