Study reveals computer associated health complaints among Finnish adolescents

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It has been reported that the use of computers has increased among adolescents 'musculoskeletal symptoms.' Evidence supports that these symptoms can be reduced through an ergonomics approach and through education. The aim of the study was to examine where adolescents had received ergonomic instructions related to computer use. Additionally, it aimed to find whether receiving these instructions was associated with a reduced prevalence of computer-associated health complaints. The method included mailed survey and a national representative sample of 12 to 18-year-old Finns in 2001. In total, 6961 youths reported using a computer.

The results indicated that to avoid computer-associated complaints, 61.2% reported were instructed to arrange their desk/chair/screen in the right position, 71.5% to take rest breaks. The older age group (16-18 years) reported receiving instructions or being self-instructed more often than the 12- to 14-year-olds. Among both age groups the sources of instructions included school (33.1%), family (28.6%), self (self-instructed) (12.5%), ICT-related (8.6%), friends (1.5%) and health professionals (0.8%). Receiving instructions was not related to lower prevalence of computer-associated health complaints. The conclusion indicated that the ergonomic instructions on how to prevent computer-related musculoskeletal problems fail to reach a substantial number of children.

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