Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Anne M. Haskins


Job Satisfaction; Mulsculoskeletal System -- injuries; Occupational Injuries -- epidemiology; Quality of Life


Purpose: The purpose of this research study was to explore the incidence and influence of musculoskeletal and nerve injuries among occupational therapists. Specifically, we examined the influence of musculoskeletal and nerve injuries on work satisfaction, work performance and overall quality of life in occupational therapists practicing in physical rehabilitation settings.

Methodology: An exploratory survey research design was implemented following study approval from the University of North Dakota (UND) Institutional Review Board. Occupational therapists who were affiliated with the UND Occupational Therapy Program contract sites were invited, via email, to participate in this exploratory study. In addition, the survey was posted on the American Occupational Therapy online forum, OT Connections. Convenience and snowball sampling was used. Respondents completed demographic questions (pertaining to practice area, work related tasks, work participation and work satisfaction) and the World Health Organization Quality of Life-Bref, an instrument intended to assess quality of life. Following data collection, descriptive and inferential analyses of data were completed.

Results: Of the 156 respondents who comprised the final sample, 111 practiced in the primary focus area of rehabilitation, participation and disability and 24 (21.8%) reported having a musculoskeletal or nerve injury. Moderate correlations were found between perceived work satisfaction and quality of life, expected productivity and quality of life and the relationship between job physicality and work satisfaction. No relationships were found between expected productivity and perceived work satisfaction, and length of musculoskeletal or nerve injury symptom experience and work satisfaction. Similarly, there were no relationships identified between quality of life and hours worked per week, frequency of patient handling, frequency of physical agent modality delivery, job physicality, and length of musculoskeletal or nerve symptom experience. In addition, gender, length of symptom experience, current illness, influence of illness or injury on work performance and perceived work satisfaction did not influence quality of life. Hours worked per week, number of patients seen per day and average length of treatment session did not affect incidence of musculoskeletal or nerve injuries.

Conclusions: There was an increased incidence of musculoskeletal or nerve injuries among occupational therapists when compared to the general population. Although the incidence is higher, the general influence of these injuries or illness in regards to perceived work satisfaction, work performance and quality of life in occupational therapists appears to be inconsequential.