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Title: The prevalence of and risk factors for neck pain in first year Faculty of Health Science students at the Durban University of Technology
Authors: Gevers, Giselle Lara 
Keywords: Neck pain;Demographics;Socio-demographics;Psychosocial;Students;First year;Bio-psychosocial;Faculty of Health;Depression;Anxiety;Stress
Issue Date: 2018
INTRODUCTION: Neck pain is considered to be one of the most disabling conditions, with a universal prevalence among youth, adult and elderly populations. However, despite its disabling nature and its high prevalence there is still much uncertainty surrounding the aetiology of the pain and the extent to which the condition is influenced by the intrinsic and extrinsic characteristics of an individual. While there is growing evidence to support the notion that marked bio-psychosocial associations exist with neck pain, this literature is heavily weighted toward an adult and a developed nation context leaving developing nations and the student population largely under-researched in comparison. Moreover, while a high prevalence of neck pain and its associated risk factors exist in the student population among health sciences and non-health sciences programmes, across many levels of study, the literature is ambivalent about which faculty and level of study is more at risk, if any. The first year of university stands out among the rest in that the students undergo a significant transition and are required to adapt to a new environment and style of learning compared to what they have been used to. Furthermore, students have been observed to exit first year with higher levels of distress than were present in the beginning of the year, suggesting that this unique environment may influence the psychosocial well-being of students. The extent and strength of this relationship is yet to be determined in a South African tertiary educational context and this is even more true of the first year student population at the Durban University of Technology. Research on the unique bio-psychosocial factors of these students would provide a more holistic understanding of the extent to which these factors exist and the role they play in the general well-being of the students and in the development of neck pain.

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: This study aimed, firstly, to determine the prevalence and psychosocial risk factors of neck pain in registered first year Faculty of Health Sciences students at the Durban University of Technology and, secondly, to determine the association between neck pain presentation, demographic characteristics, socio-demographic and psychosocial risk factors. The outcomes of this study could possibly have a threefold benefit (for the student, the institution, and the chiropractic profession at large).
RESEARCH DESIGN: A quantitative, descriptive, cross-sectional survey design was adopted in this research. This design was chosen as it was believed to be the best suited to achieving the aims and objectives of the study.

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY: Neck pain questionnaires were administered to the first year Faculty of Health Sciences students at the Durban University of Technology towards the end of the academic year in order to determine the prevalence of neck pain and its associated demographic, socio-demographic, and psychosocial risk factors. There was a final sample size of 135 participants achieving a response rate of 54.7% for the study. Data was captured by the researcher and sent to a statistician for statistical analysis.

RESULTS: A high prevalence of neck pain was found among the students (72%) with symptoms of depression (59.8%), anxiety (68.1%), and stress (53.6%) also being highly prevalent among this group. However, when neck pain was quantified by its characteristics the related impact was comparatively low. There was a common theme observed in the results highlighting the association between stress and neck pain, with stress furthermore being determined as an independent risk factor for neck pain (p = 0.023) with an odds ratio of 1.1. This result was not surprising, however, considering the stressors which emerged in the results highlighting factors such as transport protests, student protests, upcoming tests and financial aid as stress causing factors among the participants. The results provided valuable insight which enabled recommendations to be made about the direction of future research as well as recommendations for the Institution and the Chiropractic profession in the approach and management of students enrolled in tertiary education and with neck pain.
Submitted in partial compliance with the requirements for the Master's Degree in Technology: Chiropractic, Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa, 2018.
Appears in Collections:Theses and dissertations (Health Sciences)

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