Determining appropriate measurement methods for etiological research of computing-related musculoskeletal symptoms and disorders

Cammie Chaumont Menendez, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Two studies among college students were conducted to evaluate appropriate measurement methods for etiological research on computing-related upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders (UEMSDs). A cross-sectional study among 100 graduate students evaluated the utility of symptoms surveys (a VAS scale and 5-point Likert scale) compared with two UEMSD clinical classification systems (Gerr and Moore protocols). The two symptom measures were highly concordant (Lin's rho = 0.54; Spearman's r = 0.72); the two clinical protocols were moderately concordant (Cohen's kappa = 0.50). Sensitivity and specificity, endorsed by Youden's J statistic, did not reveal much agreement between the symptoms surveys and clinical examinations. It cannot be concluded self-report symptoms surveys can be used as surrogate for clinical examinations. A pilot repeated measures study conducted among 30 undergraduate students evaluated computing exposure measurement methods. Key findings are: temporal variations in symptoms, the odds of experiencing symptoms increased with every hour of computer use (adjOR = 1.1, p < .10) and every stretch break taken (adjOR = 1.3, p < .10). When measuring posture using the Computer Use Checklist, a positive association with symptoms was observed (adjOR = 1.3, p < 0.10), while measuring posture using a modified Rapid Upper Limb Assessment produced unexpected and inconsistent associations. The findings were inconclusive in identifying an appropriate posture assessment or superior conceptualization of computer use exposure. A cross-sectional study of 166 graduate students evaluated the comparability of graduate students to College Computing & Health surveys administered to undergraduate students. Fifty-five percent reported computing-related pain and functional limitations. Years of computer use in graduate school and number of years in school where weekly computer use was ≥ 10 hours were associated with pain within an hour of computing in logistic regression analyses. The findings are consistent with current literature on both undergraduate and graduate students.

Subject Area

Public health

Recommended Citation

Chaumont Menendez, Cammie, "Determining appropriate measurement methods for etiological research of computing-related musculoskeletal symptoms and disorders" (2007). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3346406.