Developing strategies for reducing work-related discomfort in optometry students

Long, Jennifer, Lau, Christopher, Burgess-Limerick, Robin, Stapleton, Fiona and Ko, Yean Loe (Chloe) (2011) Developing strategies for reducing work-related discomfort in optometry students. Ergonomics Australia, 11 44: 1-6.

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Author Long, Jennifer
Lau, Christopher
Burgess-Limerick, Robin
Stapleton, Fiona
Ko, Yean Loe (Chloe)
Title Developing strategies for reducing work-related discomfort in optometry students
Journal name Ergonomics Australia
ISSN 1033-1875
Publication date 2011
Sub-type Article (original research)
Volume 11
Issue 44
Start page 1
End page 6
Total pages 6
Place of publication Baulkham Hills, NSW, Australia
Publisher Human Factors and Ergonomics Society of Australia
Collection year 2012
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Work-related physical discomfort occurs in Australian optometrists. The purpose of this paper is to explore appropriate methods for educating optometry students about work-related discomfort before they commence clinical practice.


Two surveys were distributed: one to students at the School of Optometry and Vision Science, University of New South Wales; the second to clinical teachers at four Australian and New Zealand optometry teaching institutions. The surveys were subject to descriptive analysis.


Sixty-four optometry students (48% response rate) and 46 academic and clinical teachers (30% response rate) participated. Students reported discomfort in the previous 7 days (56% respondents) and previous 12 months (77% respondents), most commonly in the lower back, neck, shoulder and elbow/arm. Informal instruction by clinical supervisors was the first preference for students learning how to reduce work-related discomfort (28% respondents). Advice from seniors/friends who have experienced discomfort and formal instruction in practical classes were also accepted learning methods. Patient comfort was rated more important than personal comfort when performing clinical procedures (Wilcoxon Signed Rank Test, p<0.01). Informal instruction and comments during clinic supervision was the most common form of instruction (89%) reported by optometry teachers.


Work-related discomfort is experienced by optometry students and should be raised as an issue during training. Clinical teachers, both within optometry clinics and at external placements, should also receive training so that appropriate advice is given to students. Further investigation is required to identify tasks and environments which demonstrate a reduced risk of work-related discomfort and then maximise student exposure to these positive examples.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Minerals Industry Safety and Health Centre Publications
Official 2012 Collection
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Created: Thu, 10 Nov 2011, 21:32:38 EST by Dr Robin Burgess-limerick on behalf of Minerals Industry Safety and Health Centre