Prevalence of musculoskeletal symptoms among Canadian firefighters
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© 2020 - IOS Press and the authors. All rights reserved. BACKGROUND: Musculoskeletal symptoms (MSSs) remain the most frequently reported type of injuries sustained during fire-ground operations in firefighters. However, there is a paucity of reports concerning the prevalence estimates of MSSs among female firefighters and different fire services across Canada. OBJECTIVES: To assess the point prevalence of self-reported MSSs, stratified by age and sex in a cohort of active duty firefighters from across Canada, and to determine whether age, sex or length of service can be used to predict the likelihood of the number of MSSs sustained. METHODS: We recruited 390 firefighters (272 males, 118 females). To identify the prevalence of self-reported rates of MSSs, firefighters were asked to complete a standardized 11-item questionnaire that asked, 'Please indicate whether you have experienced pain in any body region within the last week', with response options that included 'Yes', 'No', and 'Head', 'Neck', 'Shoulder', 'Arm/Elbow/Hand', 'Back', 'Stomach/Abdomen', 'Upper Thigh', 'Knee', 'Lower Leg', 'Foot', 'Other, please specify'. RESULTS: Among the 390 full-time firefighters, 212 (54%) indicated to have experienced some type of MSSs within the last week. The most prevalent region-specific MSSs included, 123 (32%) in the back region, 92 (24%) in the shoulder region, 74 (19%) in the neck region and 70 (18%) in the knee region. In addition, women indicated a 1.6 times greater likelihood of sustaining ≥2 MSSs when controlling for individual differences in age and years of service. CONCLUSIONS: The point prevalence of MSSs in a cohort of full-time firefighters was 54% (55% males; 53% females). Women experienced a 1.4-1.6 times greater likelihood of sustaining MSSs when controlling for individual differences in age and years of service.