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Anger about lack of co-worker support puts nurses at higher risk of MSDs: study

female nurse
Photo: Wavebreakmedia/iStockphoto

East Lansing, MI – Nurses who get angry about what they perceive as an imbalance in support from co-workers may be at increased risk of musculoskeletal injuries, a recent study suggests.

Michigan State University researchers surveyed 410 nurses at two hospitals, exploring the impact of social and psychological factors on physical health. They found that nurses who believe the occupational or emotional support they offer colleagues exceeds what they receive in return were at heightened risk of muscle and joint pain in the shoulders, arms, hands and lower back.

“Beyond the physical demands of the job, social factors can pose additional risks,” study lead author Chu-Hsiang Chang, an associate professor of psychology at MSU, said in a March 26 press release. “These types of musculoskeletal disorders often are worsened by feelings of anger.”

Registered nurses and nursing assistants ranked among the top six occupations to experience MSDs, according to 2015 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


The researchers suggest employers “implement strategies and interventions that are designed to improve the social environment for nurses,” as well as use physical controls to mitigate injuries.

The study was published online Feb. 20 in the journal Work and Occupations.

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