Digital Survey Assessment of Factors Associated with Musculoskeletal Complaints Among US Ophthalmologists

Nicholas E. Tan, Brayden T. Wortz, Eric D. Rosenberg, Nathan M. Radcliffe, Preeya K. Gupta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Purpose: To quantify features of musculoskeletal (MSK) complaints among US ophthalmologists and analyze factors related to symptom severity. Methods: Cornea, glaucoma, retina, and comprehensive practitioners were invited to complete a web-based survey via email. Data on demographics, practice and procedural volumes, wellness activities, job stress, MSK health, the Total Disability Index (TDI), and ergonomics were collected. Significance testing was performed to evaluate factors related to TDI score. Results: Of the 245 ophthalmologists contacted, 58.8% (n = 144) responded at least in part to the survey. Pain episodes were reported in 81.4% (n = 83) of 102 respondents, with 48.1% (n = 49) experiencing daily or weekly attacks. The neck, low back, and shoulders were commonly affected, yet only 57.1% (n=20) of those with shoulder pain reported a corresponding diagnosis. The mean TDI score was 6.2 ± 7.3%, indicating minimal disability related to the spine. Demographics, volume metrics, and wellness hours were each not significantly associated with TDI score (p > 0.05). Higher job stress ratings were reported by those who experienced more frequent pain attacks (p = 0.02) and those with higher TDI scores (p = 0.001). Greater difficulty with clinic, laser, and surgery job tasks was observed in respondents with higher TDI scores (p < 0.001, p = 0.005, and p < 0.001) and more bodily pain locations (p = 0.002, p = 0.002, and p = 0.001). Respondents who pursued practice modifications (p = 0.03) and treatments (p = 0.01) to reduce or prevent pain had higher mean TDI scores, and 94.2% of respondents (n = 97) were interested in learning more about ergonomics. Conclusion: Mild MSK complaints were highly prevalent among the surveyed ophthalmologists, and a similar trend could be expected for other US ophthalmologists. Greater frequency and severity of pain may contribute to physician burnout. There may be underdiagnosis of MSK pathology yet also high demand for ergonomic strategies and MSK treatments, suggesting a need for practical solutions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4865-4874
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Ophthalmology
StatePublished - 2021


  • Ergonomics
  • Musculoskeletal diseases
  • Occupational diseases
  • Ophthalmologists
  • Surveys and questionnaires


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