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Musculoskeletal pain and associated factors among Ethiopian elementary school children

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posted on 2021-03-09, 00:26 authored by M Delele, B Janakiraman, A Bekele Abebe, A Tafese, Alexander Van De WaterAlexander Van De Water
© 2018 The Author(s). Background: Ethiopian school children often carry school supplies in heavy school bags and encounter limited school facilities. This stresses their vulnerable musculoskeletal system and may result in experiencing musculoskeletal pain. High prevalence of musculoskeletal pain has been documented, but data on musculoskeletal pain among elementary school children in Ethiopia is lacking. To determine the prevalence of musculoskeletal pain and associated factors among elementary school children in Gondar, Ethiopia. Methods: Cross-sectional study was conducted among children from six randomly selected elementary schools. Sample size was determined proportionally across school grades and governmental and private schools to ensure variety within the sample. Data collection consisted of physical measurements including height, weight and schoolbag weight, and a structured questionnaire on musculoskeletal pain, mode of transport, walking time and school facilities. Data were analysed descriptively and through uni- and multivariate logistic regression model. Results: In total 723 children participated. The overall prevalence of self-reported musculoskeletal pain was 62%, with a significant difference between school types (governmental 68% versus private 51%). Shoulder, neck and lower leg/knee were most commonly reported. Walking to and from school for ≥20 min (OR = 2.94, 95% CI 2.05 to 4.21) and relative school bag weight (OR = 2.57, 95% CI 1.48 to 4.47) were found significantly associated with self-report musculoskeletal pain. Children with carrying heavy school supplies and also walking long duration have a 3.5 (95% CI = 1.80-6.95) times greater chance of reporting pain as compared to those who carry lesser weighed bags and reported shorter walking duration at the same time. Conclusions: Prevalence of self-reported musculoskeletal pain was high among children attending public schools and also those who walked a long way to and from school. Long walking duration and relative school bag weight were significantly associated with musculoskeletal pain. These findings can inform policymakers to provide transportation services and other facilities at elementary schools. The findings of this study should be interpreted with caution due to possible social desirability bias with higher prevalence of self-reported pain and more so in children population.


This work was fully funded by University of Gondar. The funder has no role in the design of the study and collection, analysis, and interpretation of data and in writing the manuscript.


Publication Date



BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders





Article Number



8p. (p. 1-8)


BioMed Central Ltd.



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