Sonographers’ experiences of work-related musculoskeletal disorder: the everyday consequences of physiological stress and injury in contemporary ultrasound

Bolton, Gareth ORCID logo ORCID: , Booth, Lisa ORCID logo ORCID: and Miller, Paul K. ORCID logo ORCID: (2018) Sonographers’ experiences of work-related musculoskeletal disorder: the everyday consequences of physiological stress and injury in contemporary ultrasound. In: UK Radiological and Radiation Oncology Congress: Disease and Diversity, 2-4 July 2018, ACC Liverpool, UK. (Unpublished)

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Background: By 2013, the UK government’s Migration Advisory Committee had listed sonography as an official ‘shortage specialty’.[1,2] As a consequence of the working stresses allied to this shortage, British sonographers have increasingly been reducing hours or leaving clinical practice entirely.[3] Moreover, among those who remain, incidences of reported chronic pain and active injury are also on the increase within a profession that was already synonymous with high rates of work-related musculoskeletal disorder (WRMSD).[4] While contemporary research has described the rates of WRMSD among ultrasound practitioners[5], none has to date extensively explored its personal and professional impacts.

Methods: Using a model of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis with proven facility in medical imaging research,[6,7] extended semi-structured interviews with N=10 experienced sonographers were analysed.

Results: Participants routinely reported a sensation of guilt and depleted self-efficacy that not only permeated any working absence resultant of their own WRMSD, but also to taking legitimate leave when colleagues were suffering from WRMSD. An upshot of this was to recurrently “take one for the team” and work through excessive pain, even when this would likely result in greater prospective physical damage. While the basic shortage of sonographers was the core attribution for such behaviours, participants also cited (1) increasingly obese patients, (2) increasingly unhelpful (i.e. profiteering) equipment manufacturers, and (3) their own paternalism regarding healthcare.

Conclusions: The present situation in ultrasound mirrors a culture of potentially dangerous pain acceptance that been noted in the psychology of sport for some time,[8] albeit for altruistic, rather than egotistic, reasons.

1. Migration Advisory Committee. Skilled shortage sensible: Full review of the recommended shortage occupation lists for the UK and Scotland, a sunset clause and the creative occupations. 2013.
2. Parker PC, Harrison G. Educating the future sonographic workforce: Membership survey report from the British Medical Ultrasound Society. Ultrasound 2015;23:231-241.
3. Society and College of Radiographers. Sonographer workforce survey analysis. SCoR; 2014.
4. Harrison G, Harris A. Work-related musculoskeletal disorders in ultrasound: Can you reduce risk? Ultrasound 2015;23:224-230.
5. Bolton GC, Cox DL. Survey of UK sonographers on the prevention of work related muscular‐skeletal disorder (WRMSD). Journal of Clinical Ultrasound 2015;43:145-152.
6. Miller PK, Woods AL, Sloane C, Booth L. Obesity, heuristic reasoning and the organisation of communicative embarrassment in diagnostic radiography. Radiography 2017;23:130-134.
7. Miller PK, Booth L, Spacey A. Dementia and clinical interaction in frontline radiography: Mapping the practical experiences of junior clinicians in the UK. Dementia 2017.
8. Weinberg R, Vernau D, Horn T. Playing through pain and injury: Psychosocial considerations. J Clin Sport Psychol 2013;7:41-59.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)
Departments: Academic Departments > Medical & Sport Sciences (MSS) > Health and Medical Sciences
Additional Information: Poster P060.
Depositing User: Paul Miller
Date Deposited: 07 Feb 2018 14:18
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2024 19:19


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