Work-related cumulative trauma disorders of the upper extremity: Navigating the epidemiologic literature
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BACKGROUND: Cumulative trauma disorder of the upper extremity (CTDUE) is an umbrella term used to describe disorders resulting from repeated use of the upper extremity over time rather than a specific incident. The primary purpose of this article is to summarize the literature regarding the rate of work-related CTDUE, while drawing attention to the various factors contributing to the wide range of reported findings. METHODS: The Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health and Medline databases were searched for articles focusing on etiology or rates of occurrence of work-related CTDUE and their findings were summarized. RESULTS: Potential reasons for rising rates, a gender differential, and the substantial range in rates and rate ratios are delineated and important factors to consider when interpreting rates derived from workers' compensation data are detailed. CONCLUSIONS: Future research should attempt to correctly identify more specific categories of CTDUE in well-defined and accurately-quantified "at risk" populations to provide more meaningful information regarding the epidemiology of CTDUE and the effectiveness of control activities.
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