The Weight of Schoolbags and Musculoskeletal Pain in Children of Selected Schools in Thimphu, Bhutan: A Cross-sectional Study
Keywords:Ergonomics, Musculoskeletal Pain, Teens, Weight-Bearing, Adolescents
Background: The carriage of loads on the back in children, >10% of one’s body weight (BW), induces postural change and morbidity related to spinal pain. We studied the weight of schoolbags and the prevalence of musculoskeletal pain related to carrying schoolbags among children in Thimphu, Bhutan.
Methods: This was a cross-sectional study, with a multistage cluster sampling, conducted amongst grade 8 and 10 students. Data were collected using a standardized self-administered questionnaire and weights of students and schoolbags were measured. Descriptive statistics were used to present the findings. Means were compared using t test and risk factors were identified using logistic regression.
Results: There were 131 students whose schoolbags weighed >10% body weight (BW). The mean weight of schoolbags was 4.6 ±1.5 kg for grade 8 students and 4.0 ±1.5 kg for grade 10 students. Musculoskeletal pain in at least one body region was reported by 411 students. Schoolbags weighing >10% BW and carrying the bags over only one shoulder were significant risk factors for reporting musculoskeletal pain. There were 197 students whose schoolbags did not have any safety feature; students did not use them consistently even if they were present.
Conclusions: The weight of school bags that were more than the recommended ?10% BW was a strong factor in reporting musculoskeletal pain. Parents and students may be educated on the use of schoolbags with safety features. Measures such as providing storage facilities in schools may reduce the weight of bags.
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