Cumulative IT use is associated with psychosocial stress factors and musculoskeletal symptoms

Billy C.L. So, Shu Kei Cheng, Grace P.Y. Szeto

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This study aimed to examine the relationship between cumulative use of electronic devices and musculoskeletal symptoms. Smartphones and tablet computers are very popular and people may own or operate several devices at the same time. High prevalence rates of musculoskeletal symptoms associated with intensive computer use have been reported. However, research focusing on mobile devices is only just emerging in recent years. In this study, 285 persons participated including 140 males and 145 females (age range 18-50). The survey consisted of self- reported estimation of daily information technology (IT) exposure hours, tasks performed, psychosocial stress factors and relationship to musculoskeletal discomfort in the past 12 months. Total IT exposure time was an average of 7.38 h (±5.2) per day. The psychosocial factor of “working through pain” showed the most significant association with odds ratio (OR) ranging from 1.078 (95% CI = 1.021-1.138) for elbow discomfort, to 1.111 (95% CI = 1.046-1.180) for shoulder discomfort. Desktop time was also significantly associated with wrist/hand discomfort (OR = 1.103). These findings indicate only a modest relationship but one that is statistically significant with accounting for confounders. It is anticipated that prevalence rates of musculoskeletal disorders would rise in the future with increasing contribution due to psychosocial stress factors.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1541
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 8 Dec 2017


  • Ergonomics
  • Mobile device
  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Psychosocial
  • Touchscreen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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