UCSF Study Looks at Injured Hospital Workers

February 08, 2005
Investigators at the Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine are conducting the second wave of a study of musculoskeletal disorders among hospital workers, including employees who work at UCSF and San Francisco General Hospital Medical Center (SFGHMC). The aim of the "GROW" study is to investigate the hospital environment -- a workplace that has a very wide range of employees from different social backgrounds -- to study socioeconomic gradients in health, principally in relation to work-related musculoskeletal disorders. These include low back strain, arm injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, and similar conditions in lower extremities. The study includes interviews with injured and non-injured employees and also ergonomic assessments of the workplace. The questions to be answered are how and why injuries occur in a hospital environment and what happens to people with these problems. Paul Blanc, MD, MSPH, is principal investigator of the study, which is supported through research funding from the National Institutes of Health. Many previous studies have focused on injuries on nurses, but this study is concerned about many other hospital workers, including laboratory technicians, food service staff and those who work at computers. "We have recently completed the first wave of the study and are just starting the follow-up wave," says Louise Swig, MPH, study coordinator. Researchers are very appreciative of employees who have participated so far in the study and union representatives and hospital administrators for their support of the study. "We are anticipating that the information that we have learned about preventing work-related musculoskeletal injuries can be used by employees and managers in the future," said Robert Harrison, MD, MPH, of Occupational and Employee Health Services at UCSF. Indeed, Raymond Meister, MD, MPH, who works in the Occupational Services Clinic at SFGH, notes that most of the injured workers who were asked to participate in the study at SFGH have done so, partly because they want to reduce future injuries. "Many expressed a desire to be of assistance in learning about and limiting work-related injuries," he said. "As we prepare for the second wave of the study, we ask for everyone's continued participation. We look forward to the final results of the study and the chance to share this information with the UCSF and SFGH communities." To get the word out about the study, the Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine has produced a newsletter (pdf) to inform study subjects and the broader campus community about the study, its progress, and what will be happening during the follow-up. For more information about the GROW study, call 415/353-7525.

Related Links

GROW newsletter (pdf)