The effect of hand–arm vibration syndrome on quality of life
Background It is important to determine how hand–arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), a common occupational condition, affects quality of life (QOL).
Aims To measure the physical (SF12-P) and mental (SF12-M) components of QOL in workers with HAVS, using the SF12 questionnaire, and to determine the effect of the vascular, sensorineural and musculoskeletal components of HAVS on QOL.
Methods Subjects were recruited consecutively from workers with HAVS attending an occupational medicine clinic. They were assessed to determine the Stockholm vascular and sensorineural scale stages as well as an upper extremity pain score, measured by the Borg scale, as an indication of musculoskeletal problems associated with the use of vibrating tools. The SF12-P and SF12-M were both compared with Canadian population normal values after adjusting for age and sex. Multiple linear regression was used to determine the effect of the various HAVS components on SF12-P and SF12-M as well as the effects of age and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Results One hundred and forty-one subjects were recruited and 139 (99%) agreed to participate, including 134 men and 5 women. The SF12-P and SF12-M scores were significantly below the Canadian population mean values (P < 0.001), indicating lower QOL. In the multiple regression analysis, the predictor with the largest partial R 2 value for both the SF12-P and SF12-M was the upper extremity pain score.
Conclusions Both the physical and the mental QOL in workers with HAVS were below Canadian population normal values and subjects’ upper extremity pain score had the greatest effect on their QOL.