Ellapen TJ and Narsigan S
Background: With the dwindling numbers of nurses predicted to worsen; attrition from this professional occupation must be curtailed. This systematic review scrutinized the incidence and prevalence of work related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSD) among nurses as a possible attributing factor of attrition from the occupation. In addition, the examination of different intervention strategies adopted to curb the occurrence of work related musculoskeletal disorders among nurses, specifically physical exercise/therapy. Methods: The authors complied with PRIMSA guidelines. The outcome interest was work related musculoskeletal disorders; exposure was professional nurses carrying out their duties. Seven electronic databases were systematically searched for publications meeting the following inclusion criteria; incidence and prevalence of WMSD among nurses ranging from 2003-2013. One hundred and eight articles with direct and indirect relationship to the searches were identified. After eliminating articles that did not meet the inclusion criteria, the remaining publications were assessed for quality and were subsequently mined. Forty-eight English published articles were assessed, allowing 27 publications to be used for this review. The 27 articles comprised of three longitudinal, four systematic reviews, two comparative, 14 descriptive biomechanical/ergonomic and four intervention studies. Interpretation: The mean WMSD among these publications were 71.85%. The most vulnerable anatomical sites were the lower back, neck and shoulders. Predisposing risk factors were awkward working position sustained for prolonged periods during patient transfer, strenuous physical demands of the nursing profession, their poor health and fitness conditioning status and obesity. It is interesting to note that there is limited number of publications examining the efficacy of the different intervention strategies employed to curb WMSD among nurses.