Differences in musculoskeletal health due to gender in a rural multiethnic cohort: A Project FRONTIER study

J. M. Brismée, S. Yang, M. E. Lambert, M. C. Chyu, P. Tsai, Y. Zhang, J. Han, C. Hudson, Eunhee Chung, C. L. Shen

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3 Scopus citations


Background: Very few studies have investigated differences in musculoskeletal health due to gender in a large rural population. The aim of this study is to investigate factors affecting musculoskeletal health in terms of hand grip strength, musculoskeletal discomfort, and gait disturbance in a rural-dwelling, multi-ethnic cohort. Methods: Data for 1117 participants (40 years and older, 70 % female) of an ongoing rural healthcare study, Project FRONTIER, were analyzed. Subjects with a history of neurological disease, stroke and movement disorder were excluded. Dominant hand grip strength was assessed by dynamometry. Gait disturbance including stiff, spastic, narrow-based, wide-based, unstable or shuffling gait was rated. Musculoskeletal discomfort was assessed by selfreported survey. Data were analyzed by linear, logistic regression and negative binomial regressions as appropriate. Demographic and socioeconomic factors were adjusted in the multiple variable analyses. Results: In both genders, advanced age was a risk factor for weaker hand grip strength; arthritis was positively associated with musculoskeletal discomfort, and fair or poor health was significantly associated with increased risk of gait disturbance. Greater waist circumference was associated with greater musculoskeletal discomfort in males only. In females, advanced age is the risk factor for musculoskeletal discomfort as well as gait disturbance. Females with fair or poor health had weaker hand grip strength. Higher C-reactive protein and HbA1c levels were also positively associated with gait disturbance in females, but not in males. Conclusion: This cross-sectional study demonstrates how gender affects hand grip strength, musculoskeletal discomfort, and gait in a rural-dwelling multi-ethnic cohort. Our results suggest that musculoskeletal health may need to be assessed differently between males and females.

Original languageEnglish
Article number181
JournalBMC Musculoskeletal Disorders
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2016


  • FRONTIER project
  • Gait
  • Gender
  • Hand grip strength
  • Musculoskeletal discomfort
  • Rural health


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