Ergonomics in Otolaryngology: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Matthew T Ryan, Emily A Montgomery, Jacob Fryer, Alex W Yang, Channah Mills, Nora Watson, Michael Noller, Charles A Riley, Anthony M Tolisano

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: To determine the proportion of otolaryngologists with work-related musculoskeletal discomfort (WRMD) and to review objective ergonomic data that contribute to WRMD.

STUDY DESIGN: Systematic review and meta-analysis.

METHODS: A comprehensive search of the literature identified 1121 articles for initial review of which 19 (3563 participants) met criteria for qualitative discussion and eight (2192 participants) met criteria for meta-analysis. Random effects meta-analyses were used to estimate the proportion of otolaryngologists reporting WRMD.

RESULTS: The overall proportion (95% confidence intervals [CI]) of general otolaryngologists reporting WRMD was 0.79 (0.66, 0.88) for any symptoms; 0.54 (0.40, 0.67) for neck symptoms; 0.33 (0.20, 0.49) for shoulder symptoms; and 0.49 (0.40, 0.59) for back symptoms. Surgeons performing primarily subspecialty cases had a lower estimated overall prevalence of WRMD versus those performing general ENT cases, however the odds ratio (OR) was not statistically significant (OR [95% confidence interval] 0.53 [0.22, 1.25]). 23%-84% of otolaryngologists underwent medical treatment for WRMD. 5%-23% took time off work and 1%-6% stopped operating completely as a result of WRMD. 23%-62.5% of otolaryngologists believed WRMD negatively impacted their quality of life. Objective measures of ergonomic posture indicate moderate to severe risk of injury during the routine clinic and surgical procedures with none found to be low risk.

CONCLUSIONS: Ergonomic stressors among otolaryngologists contribute to a high rate of WRMD across all subspecialties with notable impact on productivity, longevity, and quality of life. Laryngoscope, 2022.

Original languageEnglish
StateE-pub ahead of print - 16 May 2022


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