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Ergonomics. 2004 Mar 15;47(4):416-26.

School furniture and the user population: an anthropometric perspective.

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Centre for Allied Health Research, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia.


The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between reported spinal symptoms in an adolescent student population, and the match between their individual anthropometric dimensions and their school furniture. The hypothesis was that students who were too large or too small for their school furniture, i.e. with anthropometric measurements furthest from the group whose anthropometry was the 'best fit' with the furniture, would have a higher frequency of reported symptoms. From data collected from 1269 schoolchildren, reported spinal symptoms and anthropometric measures were examined. Stature measures were divided into quartiles. A standard government issue school chair and desk was measured and the anthropometric quartile of the population having the 'best fit' with the furniture was identified using standard ergonomics recommendations. Odds ratios were calculated for spinal symptoms reported within each quartile group. The first quartile group (the smallest students) was identified as having the 'best fit' with the school furniture. An overall higher odds of reporting low back pain was noted in students with anthropometric dimensions in the fourth quartile (the tallest students). While it is acknowledged that there is a multifactorial nature of causality of adolescent spinal symptoms, it is contended that the degree of mis-match between child anthropometry and school furniture set-up should be further examined as a strong and plausible associate of adolescent low back pain.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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