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December 2015

HEALTH RELATED PROBLEMS AND COMPUTER USE AMONG STUDENTS

Lalita Kumari

Senior Research Fellow

Guru Nanak Dev University, Distt-Amritsar, 143001, Punjab (India)

 

ABSTRACT

This study is an attempt toestimate prevalence of computer related health problems/musculoskeletal discomforts among college students and to investigate association of health problems/musculoskeletal discomforts with duration of computing. 300 college students were studied from Punjab state of India using computer and laptops. Majority of respondents were female, graduate and fall in 20-25 years age group, use desktop and work on computer 2-4 hours and take at least once an hour break during working on computer. Chi Square test and ‘T’ test was used to test the hypothesis. There is association between musculoskeletal problems due to Computer Usage and years of working on computer and between musculoskeletal problems due to Computer Usage and hours of working on computer. Health related problems/Musculoskeletal discomforts are independent of Gender except lower back pain which is more in females. There is no difference in Health related problems/Musculoskeletal discomforts between desktop users and Laptop users.

Keywords: Health, Computer and students

INTRODUCTION

Computer use among college students has increased dramatically in the last few years. Most academic programs now require a computer and computer literacy for enrollment. In every field, one cannot think without computer work. It has decreased work load in offices, college, school and business sector. Computer has become a connecting and communicating media these days.

Computer work involves repetitive moment of upper limbs, adapted postures using laptops in bed and using desktop sitting on a chair. There are changes in musculoskeletal structures causing tightness, fatigue, neck ache other joint symptoms.

Studies done by different researchers have found that up to 80% people experience physical discomfort during or after computer work.

 

 

NEED OF THE STUDY

There is insufficient data on musculoskeletal related to computer use among Indian population. Concentrating the differences in academic schedule in college program and duration of computing, there is need to evaluate Health related and musculoskeletal complaints (MSK) related to computer use among student.

 

Table 1: Empirical Literature on Computer Related Health Problems.

Author

(Year)

Country

study design & Sample Size

Instrument

Used

Methodology

Results of the study

Karen Jacob (2002)

New England

cross-sectional study and 6th and 7th grade

students in three middle schools

 

survey used in the study to determine the prevalence of computer-related musculoskeletal

discomfort/pain was adapted from one used by Katz, Amick, Carroll, Hollis, Fossel, & Coley (2000) in

their research on the prevalence of upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders in college students.

Percentage and Chi-Square test

Musculoskeletal (MSC) discomfort/pain associated with computer use in adults may be prevalent throughout middle school aged students. 40% of those participants with computer-related MSC discomfort/pain reported taking a break from using the computer once an hour. This finding suggests that they may be aware of the MSC discomfort/pain and take a break to relieve this discomfort. Despite 95.3% of the students reporting spending 0-6 hours/day using a computer, the amount of time spent using the computer was not associated with musculoskeletal discomfort/pain.

Sotoyama et al.(2002)

USA

Cross Sectional Study and 100 ele-mentary, junior high, and high schools

questionnaires

Percentage

Concluded that most schools are slow in developing instructive programs about environment and ergonomics in relation to the computer workspace. Although children currently were not experiencing musculoskeletal problems, a concern for future problems with the prospected rise in use of computers in the classroom was expressed. This rise in computer use can lead to physical problems if measures are not taken to improve ergonomic positioning.

Ketola et al.(2002)

USA

Cross Sectional Study and 124 subjects

questionnaires

Percentage

More use of computer is the major cause of musculoskeletal and ergonomics education helped reduce discomfort; however, the best results were achieved by cooperative plan-ning in which both workers and practitioners were involved

 

 Shari McMahanand Rafer Lutz (2003)

 

 California

cross-sectional study and 512 college students

survey

Percentage, MANOVA and Regression

The most frequently reported disorders were related to eyestrain affecting nearly 85%, and upper back and neck pain affecting 70% of computer users. This study confirmed the effectiveness of training in workstation design considering that these two recommendations are among the most recommended strategies in the workstation design literature

Eric et al. (2004)

California

cross-sectional study and 206 Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS)

graduate students

304 graduate students randomly selected, 206

completed the questionnaire (67% participation rate) with

69% completing the questionnaire online, and 31% by

telephone.

Chi-Square statistic and Univariate logistic regression

Approximately 60% of respondents reported upper extremity or neck pain attributed to computer use and reported a mean pain severity score of 4.5 (_2.2; scale 0–10). In a final logistic regression model, female gender, years of computer use, and hours of computer use per week were significantly associated with pain. The high prevalence of upper extremity pain reported by graduate students suggests a public health need to identify interventions that will reduce symptom severity and prevent impairment.

Moras et al. (2007)

USA

random-cross sectional study of 361 undergraduate students

survey

Percentage

Assess levels of discomfort, previous laptop use, major and non-musculoskeletal problems such as eye pain and headaches. Neck pain was the most common complaint, followed by upper and lower back.

Shyam Sundar Prasad Shah

Dr.M.V.Shetty (2007)

India(Bangalore)

Cross sectional study and 500 college students reporting computer use

 

questionnaire method and interview

T-test and Chi- square test

Prevalence of computer related musculoskeletal complaints among college students were very common and there was association of musculoskeletal complaints with adverse tissue tension and duration of computing.

Muthunarayanan (2013)

India

(Chennai)

cross-sectional study and 416 private university students comprising of final year Medical and

Engineering (Computer science and Information

technology) students studied

structured questionnaire

Percentage and Multiple Logistic Regression

Out of 416 students studied, 58% of them viewed computer at a distance of 20 to 40 inches, 61 % viewed

the computer screen at the same level, 42.8% placed the reference material between monitor and key board, 24.5%

tilted screen backward and 75.7% took frequent breaks to prevent CVS. Students who viewed the computer at a

distance of less than 20 inches, viewed upwards or downwards to see the computer, who did not avoid glare and did

not took frequent breaks were at higher risk of developing CVS. Students who did not used adjustable chair, height

adjustable keyboard were at higher risk of developing neck and shoulder pain.

The students who were not practicing ergonomics principle and did not check posture and make

ergonomic alteration were at higher risk of developing CVS.

Venkatesan et al.(2012)

Malaysia

A cross-sectional study was performed

among 200 college students aged 19-27 years using random sampling, two surveys

Questionnaire

Percentage and Correlation analysis

About 88% (149/170) of the respondents reported musculoskeletal complaints in the two weeks prior to completing the survey. The prevalence of musculoskeletal pain was higher in female 90% than in male students 76%. Although there was no statistically significant association between the type of computer and musculoskeletal pain, the prevalence of musculoskeletal pain was higher for students using laptop ( 90% ) when compared to those using both desktop and laptop and desktop only (87 and 86%) respectively. There was no statistically significant correlation for musculoskeletal pain with hours of computer use per day, type of computer used and level of physical activity.

Chavda et al. (2013)

India (Gujarat)

 cross-sectional study and

 100 students

 

 

Self-reporting Questionnaire

Percentage

 Current practice of laptop’s usage was ergonomically improper. Prolonged usage in improper posture has created various musculoskeletal problems among medical students

 

 

 Bansal et al.(2013)

India

( SURAT)

 cross sectional study of 290 selected students of information technology in various college

an interviewer-administered questionnaire

Percentage

 prevalence of the symptoms like watering in eyes, eye strain, back pain, shoulder pain, neck pain and many other problems which were common among the students and become more persistent with the increase in hours of work and  study also examined gender variations

 Peter et al. (2014)

 College of Health Professions, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, USA

convenience sample and 260

 graduate students

questionnaire

paired t-test for equality of means including an independent samples test and analysis using ANOVA

 Results showed that subjects demonstrated a statistically significant im-provement in ergonomics knowledge after they completed the ergonomic educational session. Some participants reported making adaptations to laptop positioning and equipment use fol-lowing the educational session. Thus, partici-pating in ergonomic education can positively influence awareness of body mechanics relative to laptop workstation design

Source: Compiled from various studies

 

 

 

Objectives of Study

  1. To estimate prevalence of computer related health problems/musculoskeletal discomforts among college students
  2. To identify nature and distribution of problems associated with computer usage
  3. To investigate association of health problems/musculoskeletal discomforts with duration of computing.

Hypothesis:

  • There is no association between Health related problems/Musculoskeletal discomforts and hours of use of desktop/laptop in a day.     
  • There is no association between Health related problems/Musculoskeletal discomforts and years of desktop/laptop use.        
  • Perception of respondents regarding Health related problems/Musculoskeletal discomforts is independent of Gender.
  • There is no difference in Health related problems/Musculoskeletal discomforts between desktop users and Laptop users.

MATERIALS AND METHODOLOGY:

Source of Data: 300 College students of Punjab state.

Definition of Study Subjects: College students using computer (laptop and desktop).

INCLUSION AND EXCLUSION CRITERIA:      

Inclusion Criteria:

  • College student in the age group to >15 to 35 years.
  • Students of both genders reporting use of computer.

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Uncooperative students.
  • Structural deformities of spine or upper limb.

STUDY SAMPLING DESIGN, METHOD AND SIZE:

Sample Design: Sample of convenience

Method Of Collection Data: Survey by questionnaire method.

Sample – Size: 300 college and universities students reporting computer use.

Parameters used for comparison and statistical analysis used: The collected data is analyzed by Percentage, chi – square test and t – test.

Duration of study:  one week (March to June, 2015)

Methodology: Survey was done in different colleges conducting computer related courses. Questionnaire was distributed among students to measure computer related health problems/musculoskeletal discomforts. Student reporting computer related health problems/musculoskeletal discomforts were asked questions in survey to obtain details in nature, distribution, duration and other contributing factors.

DATA ANALYSIS

Sample characteristics

Table 2: Demographic Profile of Respondents

Demographic Variables

No. of

Respondents (%)

Gender

Male

138(46)

 

 

 

Age (Yrs)

Female

162(54)

15-20 Years

72 (24)

20-25 years

126(42)

25-30 Years

66(22)

30 -35 Years

36(12)

 

Education Level

Under Graduate

84 (28)

Graduate

114(38)

Post Graduate

54(18)

Research Schloar

48(16)

As far as the demographic profile of the respondents is concerned, the sample comprised of variety of respondents belonging to different educational background. The demographic background of the sampled respondents is presented in Table no. 2. Table reveals that majority of respondents were female. The table also shows that the majority of the respondents (42%) belonged to the age group of 20-25 years of age. The next largest category comprised of respondents between 15-20 years of age (27 %). The next category of respondents was of the age group of 25-30 years (22%), while those falling in the age category of 30-35 formed just 12% of the sample. It brings out that 38% of the respondents were graduates followed by under graduates (28%). The next category comprised of respondents who were post graduates (18%).While 16 % of the respondents’ perusing doctoral degree.

Table: 3 Type of Computer Used for browsing/typing/downloading

Computer Used for browsing/typing/downloading

Frequency

Percentage

Desktop

180

60

Laptop

120

40

Total

3000

100

    Table 3 indicates that 60 per cent of respondents were used desktop and 40 percent were used Laptop for browsing/typing/downloading.

Table 4: Years of Working on Desktop/Laptop

Years of Working on Desktop/Laptop

Frequency

Percentage

<3 Years

72

24

3-6 Years

126

42

6-9 Years

60

20

9-12 Years

18

6

12-15 Years

24

8

>15 Years

0

0

Total

300

100

Table 4 indicates that majority of respondents were working on desktop/Laptop for 3 -6 years, followed by <3 years, followed by 6-9 years, 12-15 years and 9-12 years.

Table 5 Hours of work on Computer/Laptop per day

Hours of work on Computer/Laptop per day

 

Frequency

Percentage

0-2 Hours

54

18

2-4 Hours

138

46

4-6 Hours

66

22

6-8 Hours

30

10

8+ Hours

12

4

Total

300

100

Table 5 indicates majority (46 per cent) of respondents were work 2-4 hours per day on computer, followed by 4-6 hours, 0-2 hours and 6-8 hours. While just 4 per cent work more than 8 hours.                                              

Table 6   Frequency of taking breaks from working on the computer

Frequency of taking breaks from working on the computer

 

Frequency

Percent

More than once an hour

24

8

Only after 2 hours work

18

6

Once every 1-2 hours

60

20

At least once an hour

126

42

Never

72

24

Table 6 indicates majority (42 per cent) of respondents took break at least once an hour, followed by never (24 per cent) Once every 1-2 hours (20 per cent) , More than once an hour (8 per cent), Only after 2 hours work (6 per cent). 

Table: 7 Position of computer screen

Position of computer screen

Frequency

Percentage

At same level

150

50

Upward

102

34

Downward

48

16

Table 7 indicates majority 50 per cent keep their computer screen at same level. While 16 per cent keep computer screen downward.

 

Table: 8 Place of reference material while typing

Place of reference material while typing

Frequency

Percentage

Between Monitor/screen and Keyboard

10

20

Above the Monitor/screen

17

34

Sides of the Monitor/screen

23

46

Table 8 indicates the place of reference material while typing on computer. Majority (46 per cent) respond they kept it sides of the monitor/screen, 34 per cent kept Above the Monitor/screen and 20 per cent kept Between Monitor/screen and Keyboard.

Table 9 Body Posture during using desktop/Laptop

Posture

Yes (%)

No (%)

Total

Thigh horizontal

192(64)

108(36)

300

Feet on floor or on foot rest

192(64)

108(36)

300

Lower leg kept vertical

198(66)

102(34)

300

Arms and forearms at right angle

192(64)

108(36)

300

Wrist rest on keyboard

210(70)

90(30)

300

Table 9 reveals that body posture during using desktop/laptop. Majority of respondents respond that they kept Thigh horizontal, Feet on floor or on foot rest, Lower leg kept vertical, Arms and forearms at right angle and wrist rest on keyboard.

Chi-Square test

Table 10 Association between suffered /suffering from any musculoskeletal problems due to Computer Usage and years of working on Desktop/Laptop

 

 

 

3-6 Years

6-9 Years

9-12 Years

12-15 Years

>15 Years

 

suffered /suffering from any musculoskeletal problems due to Computer Usage

Yes

18

36

42

78

108

282

No

6

12

0

0

0

18

Total

24

48

42

78

108

300

Contingency Coefficient (Approx. Sig.).039

Table 11 indicates the relationship between the existence of computer-related health/musculoskeletal discomfort/pain and years spent using a computer was made on the basis of student’s report of Desktop/Laptop use from “Years of working on Computer/Laptop). Chi-square analysis (Contingency Coefficient=.499) showed that the correlation between health related/ musculoskeletal discomfort/pain and the reported years of working on computer was significant (p>.05). Therefore, there is association between musculoskeletal problems due to Computer Usage and years of working on computer.

Table 11 Association between suffered /suffering from any musculoskeletal problems due to Computer Usage and years of working on Desktop/Laptop

 

 

hours of work on Computer/Laptop

Total

 

 

0-2 Hours

2-4 Hours

4-6 Hours

6-8 Hours

8+ Hours

suffered /suffering from any musculoskeletal problems due to Computer Usage

Yes

18

78

60

24

30

228

No

42

30

0

0

0

72

Total

78

108

60

24

30

300

Contingency Coefficient (Approx. Sig.)  .014

The relationship between the existence of computer-related musculoskeletal discomfort/pain and time spent using a computer was made based on student’s report of Desktop/Laptop use in a “typical” day (0-2 hours/day, 2-4 hours/day, 4-6 hours/day, 6-8 hours/day or 8+ hours /day). Chi-square analysis (Contingency Coefficient=.014) indicated that the correlation between health related/musculoskeletal problems and the reported number of hours per day of computer use was significant (p>.05). Therefore, there is association between problems due to computer usage and hours of work on computer.

 

Table 12 Independent Samples t-Test

 

Levene's Test for Equality of Variances

t-test for Equality of Means

F

Sig.

t

df

Sig. (2-tailed)

Mean Difference

Std. Error Difference

95% Confidence Interval of the Difference

Lower

Upper

Finger pain, wrist & hand pain

Equal variances assumed

.027

.870

-.110

102

.913

-.02564

.23313

-.48806

.43677

Shoulder, Elbow pain & arms pain

Equal variances assumed

.462

.498

.174

102

.862

.03846

.22053

-.39896

.47588

Numbness/tingling over hand

Equal variances assumed

.476

.492

.851

102

.397

.17949

.21083

-.23869

.59767

Neck pain

Equal variances assumed

.006

.939

-.517

102

.606

-.11538

.22323

-.55816

.32739

Back pain

Equal variances assumed

.000

1.000

-.481

102

.632

-.11538

.24009

-.59161

.36084

Lower backache

Equal variances not assumed

.245

.022

-2.438

56.166

.012

-.44872

.17313

-.79552

-.10192

Leg pain

Equal variances assumed

1.132

.290

.652

102

.516

.14103

.21622

-.28784

.56990

Thigh pain

Equal variances assumed

.006

.940

-.064

102

.949

-.01282

.19908

-.40770

.38206

Knee pain

Equal variances assumed

.100

.753

-.937

102

.351

-.21795

.23259

-.67929

.24340

Numbness/tingling over feet

Equal variances assumed

.000

.998

.220

102

.827

.05128

.23346

-.41179

.51435

Burning feet

Equal variances assumed

1.181

.280

1.294

102

.199

.29487

.22789

-.15714

.74689

 

Table 12 (i) Group Statistics

 

 

Gender

N

Mean

Std. Deviation

Std. Error Mean

 

Lower backache

Male

138

1.5769

.70274

.13782

 

Female

162

2.0256

.92546

.10479

                               

 

Table 12 shows that H0 (3) is rejected partially in case of “Lower backache” significance value is less than 0.05(p<0.05). As table 12 (i) show mean value of female respondents is more than male counterparts so it can be said female are suffering more from Lower backache as compared to their male counterpart respondents.

Table 13 Independent t –test

 

 

Levene's Test for Equality of Variances

t-test for Equality of Means

 

 

F

Sig.

t

df

Sig. (2-tailed)

Mean Difference

Std. Error Difference

95% Confidence Interval of the Difference

 

Lower

Upper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shoulder, Elbow pain & arms pain

Equal variances assumed

1.213

.276

.402

48

.690

.20652

.51398

-.82689

1.23994

Numbness/tingling over hand

Equal variances assumed

.605

.440

-.723

48

.473

-.33696

.46627

-1.27445

.60053

 

Equal variances assumed

2.301

.136

-.525

3.251

.633

-.33696

.64194

-2.29347

1.61956

Neck pain

Equal variances assumed

2.301

.136

.855

48

.397

.44565

.52123

-.60234

1.49365

Back pain

Equal variances assumed

1.811

.185

-.399

48

.691

-.21739

.54427

-1.31172

.87694

Lower backache

Equal variances assumed

.295

.589

-.323

48

.748

-.17391

.53790

-1.25544

.90761

Leg pain

Equal variances assumed

6.800

.312

.212

48

.833

.10870

.51284

-.92243

1.13982

Thigh pain

Equal variances assumed

1.002

.322

1.298

48

.200

.67391

.51916

-.36992

1.71775

Knee pain

Equal variances assumed

4.642

.436

1.489

48

.143

.79348

.53290

-.27799

1.86495

Numbness/tingling over feet

Equal variances assumed

.565

.456

.247

48

.806

.13043

.52786

-.93089

1.19176

Burning feet

Equal variances assumed

.313

.579

-.534

48

.596

-.27174

.50880

-1.29475

.75127

Table 13 indicates that p>0.05 so H0 (4) is not rejected therefore, There is no difference in Health related problems/Musculoskeletal discomforts between desktop users and Laptop users.

DISCUSSION AND FINDINGS

  • Majority of respondents were female, graduate and fall in 20-25 years age group, use desktop and work on computer 2-4 hours and take at least once a hour break during working on computer.
  • There is association between musculoskeletal problems due to Computer Usage and years of working on computer.
  • There is association between musculoskeletal problems due to Computer Usage and hours of working on computer.
  • Health related problems/Musculoskeletal discomforts are independent of Gender except lower back pain which is more in females.
  • There is no difference in Health related problems/Musculoskeletal discomforts between desktop users and Laptop users.

RECOMMENDED ERGONOMICS FOR STAYING COMFORTABLE AT COMPUTER

  • Sit up tall.
  • Sit close to your keyboard.
  • Adjust the keyboard height.
  • Adjust the tilt of your keyboard based on your sitting position.
  • Position the source documents in front of you, and use an in-line copy stand.
  • Take small breaks during your workday to release some muscle tension.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • Karen Jacobs (2002), “Middle School Children and Their Use of Interactive Media”, The Proceeding of the XVI Annual International Occupational Ergonomics and Safety Conference ʹ2002
  • Sotoyama, M., Bergqvist, U., Jonai, H. and Saito, S. (2002), “ An ergonomic questionnaire survey on the use of computers  in schools” Industrial Health,40, 35-141.

    http://dx.doi.org/10.2486/indhealth.40.135

  • Ketola, R., Toivonen, R., Hakkanen, M., Luukkonen, R., Takala, E. and Viikari-Juntura, E. (2002) Effects of ergonomic  intervention in work with video display units, Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health, 28, 18-24.

     http://dx.doi.org/10.5271/sjweh.642

  • S. McMahan & R. Lutz  (2003), “Computer Use, Workstation Design Training and Cumulative Trauma Disorders  in College Students”, Californian Journal of Health Promotion, Volume 1, Issue 4, 38-46.
  • Eric B. Schlossberg, Sandra Morrow, Augusto E. Llosa, Edward Mamary, MS, Peter Dietrich, and David M. Rempel, (2004), “Upper Extremity Pain and Computer Use Among Engineering Graduate Students”,  American Journal Of Industrial Medicine 46:297–303.
 
 

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