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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2012  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 74-78

Computer related health problems among software professionals in Mumbai: A cross-sectional study


Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Kaanchepuram, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Web Publication27-Sep-2012

Correspondence Address:
Saurabh R Shrivastava
Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Kaanchepuram, Tamil Nadu
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/2278-344X.101684

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  Abstract 

Context: Computers have become an epitome of modern life, being used in every aspect of life. This has also ushered in a new genre of occupation-related health problem. Aims: To estimate prevalence of health problems among software professionals. Settings and Design: Cross-sectional descriptive study of 4 months duration from January 2011 to April 2011 was conducted among software professionals working with a private firm. Materials and Methods: List of software professionals working with the firm was obtained and then all professionals satisfying the inclusion criteria were included as study subjects. Inclusion Criteria: working in current job since past 6 months and on computer for at least 4 h/day. The selected study participants were then interviewed face to face using a pre-tested semi-structured questionnaire after taking their informed consent. Statistical Analysis Used: SPSS version 17 using the chi-square test. Results: The prevalence of any type of computer-related morbidity in software professionals was 178 (89%). The proportion of visual, musculoskeletal, and stress was found to be 67%, 63%, and 44%, respectively. A statistically significant association was found between subjects with visual and musculoskeletal complaints using antiglare screen and soft keypads and those not using them respectively. Conclusions: Ocular discomfort, musculo-skeletal disorders and psycho-social problems form key category of health problems found among constant computer users. This study has also brought into focus factors contributing to the occurrence of these problems. Thus, the problem requires a multidisciplinary action and hence there is an immediate need for the concerned authorities to collaborate and enforce suitable preventive measures.

Keywords: Computer, ergonomics, software professionals, standardized nordic questionnaire


How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Bobhate PS. Computer related health problems among software professionals in Mumbai: A cross-sectional study. Int J Health Allied Sci 2012;1:74-8

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Bobhate PS. Computer related health problems among software professionals in Mumbai: A cross-sectional study. Int J Health Allied Sci [serial online] 2012 [cited 2019 Sep 16];1:74-8. Available from: http://www.ijhas.in/text.asp?2012/1/2/74/101684


  Introduction Top


India has been in the forefront in cyber world with information technology (IT) industry developing into a major service provider. There are approximately six-computers/1000 population with an installation of 18 million personal computers (PCs) and their number increasing all the time. [1] This has also ushered in a new genre of occupational health problem, i.e. of computer-related health problems.

Using the wrong chair or just sitting improperly in front of a computer for long time can lead to chronic debilities such as stiffness, headache, and backache. Muscles and tendons can become inflamed due to greater periods of sitting on PC's. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common example of an overuse injury associated with computer work. [2] The proliferation of video display terminals (VDT), in the modern office setting has generated concern related to potential health hazards associated with their use. [3]

Surveys of computer workers reveal that vision-related problems are the most frequently reported health-related problems, occurring in over 70% of computer workers. [4] Aspects of the design of the computer video display such as screen resolution and contrast, image refresh rates and flicker, and screen glare, as well as working distances and angles all may contribute to worker symptoms. [5],[6]

In a study done in Loni, Maharashtra, it was observed that in 93.3% of study subjects had one or more computer-related health problem, the most common complaint being musculoskeletal (73.3%) followed by ocular (65.3%) and psychosocial (46.0%). [7] In a study done in India it was observed that 75.5% and 59.4% respondents had musculo-skeletal discomfort and computer vision syndrome, respectively. [8] In a study done in Chennai among software professionals, the prevalence of Carpal tunnel syndrome was found to be 13.1%. [9]

The present study was thus aimed at exploring the magnitude and pattern of computer-related health problems among the software professionals and to study its association with their working environmental conditions. The findings of the study can be utilized in making policy decisions and will also re-emphasize the importance of ergonomics.


  Materials and Methods Top


Study design and setting

A cross-sectional descriptive study of 4-month duration from January 2011 to April 2011 was conducted among software professionals working with a private firm. Permission from the Managing Director of the firm was taken prior to the start of study.

Selection of participants

Universal sampling method was used. List of software professionals working with the firm was obtained and then all professionals satisfying the inclusion criteria were included as study subjects. All the participants were assured that findings of the study will not have any impact on their continuation of job. The total sample size for the study was 200.

Inclusion criteria

Subject working in the current job since past 6 months; subject working on computer for at least 4 h/day and subject giving consent for the study.

Exclusion criteria

Those subjects who did not consent for the study.

The study participants were explained about the aim of the study and they were assured that findings of the study will not have any impact on their job. The days and time of the interview were fixed according to the convenience of both study subjects as well as investigator. There were no drop outs.

Methods of measurement

Study subjects were then interviewed face to face using a pre-tested semi-structured questionnaire after taking their informed consent.

Data collection

Data collection was done with the help of the questionnaire. The questionnaire included details about socio-demographic information as well as details regarding working hours, working environment, experiencing any problem while working on computer, and the kind of problems perceived.

Various tools were used as a part of the study like the standardized nordic questionnaire was administered to assess musculoskeletal problems. [10] Depression was measured using Zung's self rating depression scale and Hamilton's depression rating scale. [11] Visual acuity was also assessed using Snellen's chart (for distant vision) and Jaeger's chart (for near vision).

In the study, stress was operationally defined by the presence of at least 3 of the following symptoms - insomnia, loss of mental concentration, anxiety, absenteeism, depression, substance abuse, extreme anger and frustration, family conflict, headache, migraine.

Statistical method

Data entry and statistical analysis were done using SPSS version 17. The chi-square test for testing the significance of association at P value of 0.05 and 0.01 was used to assess the association between socio-demographic parameters and visual/Musculo-skeletal/ocular morbidities. Frequency distributions were calculated for all the variables.

Ethical guidelines followed by the investigators

Approval from the Institutional Ethics Committee was taken before the start of the study. Written informed consent was taken from the study participants before obtaining any information from them. Privacy and confidentiality was strictly maintained.


  Results Top


The mean age of study subjects was 28.23 ± 4.3 years with 48.5% of subjects being in the age group of 20-39 years. The male:female ratio was 3:2. Among all study participants, eldest person age was 52 years.

[Table 1] shows the age and sex wise distribution of visual, musculoskeletal complaints, and stress among the study participants. A statistically significant association was observed between the age of study participants and visual complaints/musculo-skeletal complaints and stress. Depression was present in 8% by Zungs self-rating scale and in 6% by Hamilton depression-scale of the participants and most of these had minimal to mild depression. On use of Snellen-Jaeger's chart, 39 (19.5%) were found to be both myopic and hypermetropic, 44 (22%) were only myopic, and 67 (33.5%) hypermetropic.
Table 1: Distribution of study participants according to the type of complaints

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[Table 2] shows the distribution of stress among the software professionals depending on their marital status. It was observed that the percentage of stress related to work was much higher among the unmarried 68 (77.3%) professionals than in the married 20 (22.7%) professionals and this distribution was found to be highly significant (P < 0.01) on applying the chi square test.
Table 2: Distribution of stress according to marital status of study participants

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[Table 3] depicts the distribution of visual and musculoskeletal complaints among the software professionals. Redness in the eyes was the most common visual complaint cited by 54 (40.2%) participants. 57 (45.2%) participants recorded pain/stiffness in neck as the most common musculo-skeletal complaint.
Table 3: Distribution of visual and musculoskeletal complaints among study participants

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[Table 4] shows a significant association between number of working hours on computer and musculo-skeletal complaints. Similarly, musculo-skeletal complaints and stress was observed to have a significant association with duration of work.
Table 4: Distribution of study subjects according to duration of work and type of complaint

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[Table 5] shows that software professionals who were working on a computer having an antiglare screen had much lower frequency of visual complaints (53.4%) when compared with those who were not using it (72.5%). This distribution was found to be statistically significant.
Table 5: Distribution of study subjects according to working environment and complaints

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  Discussion Top


The present study revealed coexistence of more than one form of complaint among professional computer users. In the study, as many as 178 (89%) of the study subjects reported one or more than one computer-related health problem. This observation was at par with the results obtained by Shah and Sjogren-Rouka who reported 93.5% and 91.8% any complaint among software professionals and computer operators, respectively. [12],[13] This result proves that computer-related health problems are on the rise globally and almost all software professionals were having one or the other kind of computer-related morbidity. The probable explanation for differences in the prevalence rates of computer-related problems in various studies depend upon factors like workstation environment, degree of immobilization and levels of constrained postures, awareness levels, and practices of workers regarding computer ergonomics.

In the current study ocular discomfort (67%), musculo-skeletal disorders (63%), and psycho-social problems in the form of stress (44%) were the key health problems identified among computer professionals. Stress was found to be more common in male 58 (47.3%) than in females while musculoskeletal complaints were more common in females 51 (67.1%) than in males. Similar findings were also seen in a study done in Delhi among information technology professionals. [1]

In the current study, it was observed that percentage of stress related to work was much higher among the unmarried 68 (77.3%) professionals than in the married 20 (22.7%) professionals. The main reason for such findings could be because of the fact that married workers were able to reduce their work-related stress at home with their family members while single workers had no such de-stressors at home and thus had a greater tendency of doing overtime work.

The most common visual and musculo-skeletal complaint cited by software professionals were redness in the eyes 54 (40.2%) and pain/stiffness in neck 57 (45.2%), respectively. However, in a study done in Medical College in Loni, Maharashtra, watering from eyes (62.6%) and neck pain (58%) were the most common visual and musculo-skeletal complaints. [7]

In a study done in Hongkong bank professionals, most common site for Musculo-skeletal complaints was again neck (31.4%) followed by back (30.6%). [14] Neck was the most common site affected in almost all studies probably because of the static posture which a person has to maintain while working on the computer. This also brings forth the fact that most of the subjects work for longer periods without taking intermittent rest.

Study participants who were working on a computer having an antiglare screen had much lower frequency of visual complaints (53.4%). Similarly, participants who were using cushioned chairs and soft keypads had lower frequency of musculoskeletal complaints. Thus, it shows that if principles of ergonomics are utilized in the working environment it can definitely result in a decrease in computer-related health problems.

The present study had its limitations in the form that it was a single center-based study. Also, the usage of spectacles prior to joining the company was not studied as myopia/hypermetropia may be present in some of the subjects before joining the company.

It is evident that computer-related morbidity has become an important occupational health problem and is a matter of great concern. Ocular discomfort, musculo-skeletal disorders, and psycho-social problems form the key category of health problems found among constant computer users. This study has also brought into focus factors contributing to the occurrence of these problems. The problem requires a multidisciplinary action. The high prevalence makes it imperative for the concerned personals to take a serious note of it. There is an immediate need for the concerned authorities to collaborate and enforce suitable preventive measures. Since it was observed in the study that use of antiglare screen, cushioned chairs, and soft keypads had resulted in lowered health problems, application of ergonomics in working environment is must. There is also an immediate need to sensitize the management of the organizations employing computer professionals about their problem and enforce suitable preventive measures. Interventions can be mainly directed toward workstation redesign (including advanced ergonomic chairs, motorized adjustable workstations, advanced adjustable keyboards, adjustable copyholders, adjustable footrests, monitor support surfaces) and ergonomic training/coaching and periodic medical examinations.

 
  References Top

1.Sharma AK, Khera S, Khandekar J. Computer related health problems among information technology professionals in Delhi. Indian J Community Med 2006;31:36-8.  Back to cited text no. 1
  Medknow Journal  
2.Staples JV. Computer Science: Prevent computer related injury. http://educationinfoweb.com/articles/computer-science-prevent-computer-related-injury.html [accessed on 14/02/2012].  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.Singh S, Wadhwa J. Impact of computer workstation design on health of the users. J Hum Ecol 2006;20:165-70.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.Verma SB. Computers and vision. J Postgrad Med 2001;47:119-20.  Back to cited text no. 4
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
5.Sheedy JE. How do eye problems rank with other VDU disorders? In: Grieco A, Molteni G, Occhipinti B, editors. Work with display units. Fourth International Scientific Conference Book of Short Papers. Volume 2. Italy: University of Milan; 1994.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.Campbell FW, Durden K. The visual display terminal use: A consideration of its physiological, psychological and clinical background. Ophthalmic Physiol Opt 1983;3:175-92.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.Giri PA, Phalke DB, Phalke VD, Aarif SMM, Kalakoti P. Computer related health problems among occupational computer users: A cross-sectional study. Australasian Medical Journal 2010;3:429-31.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.Sivaraman G, Mahalakshmy T, Kalaiselvan G. Occupation related health hazards: Online survey among software engineers of South India. Indian Journal of Medical Specialities 2011;2:77-8.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.Ali KM, Sathiyasekaran BW. Computer professionals and carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). Int J Occup Saf Ergon 2006;12:319-25.  Back to cited text no. 9
    
10.Kourinka B, Jhonson A, Vinterberg KH, Sorenson FB, Anderson G, Jorgensen K. Standardized nordic questionnaires for the analysis of musculoskeletal symptoms. Appl Ergon 1987;18:233-7.  Back to cited text no. 10
    
11.Kaplan HI, Sadock BJ, editors. Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry. 6th ed. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins; 1995. p. 619-35.  Back to cited text no. 11
    
12.Shah PB, Reddy PS, Hegde S. Stress: Occupational health disorder amongst computer professionals. Ind Journal of Occupational Health 1999;3:71-3.  Back to cited text no. 12
    
13.Sjogren RT, Ojanen OM, Mustalampi S, Malkia E. Musculoskelatal symptoms & psychosocial functioning by gender & age on subjects with sedentary occupation, 2001. http://www.occuphealth.fi/org/ery/nes2001/nes200 1-p422.pdf. [accessed on 14/01/2012].  Back to cited text no. 13
    
14.Yu IT, Wong TW. Musculoskeletal problems among VDU workers in a Hong Kong bank. Occup Med (Lond) 1996;46:275-80.  Back to cited text no. 14
    



 
 
    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5]


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