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1.  Loss of Productivity Due to Neck/Shoulder Symptoms and Hand/Arm Symptoms: Results from the PROMO-Study 
The objective of the present study is to describe the extent of productivity loss among computer workers with neck/shoulder symptoms and hand/arm symptoms, and to examine associations between pain intensity, various physical and psychosocial factors and productivity loss in computer workers with neck/shoulder and hand/arm symptoms.
A cross-sectional design was used. The study population consisted of 654 computer workers with neck/shoulder or hand/arm symptoms from five different companies. Descriptive statistics were used to describe the occurrence of self-reported productivity loss. Logistic regression analyses were used to examine the associations.
In 26% of all the cases reporting symptoms, productivity loss was involved, the most often in cases reporting both symptoms (36%). Productivity loss involved sickness absence in 11% of the arm/hand cases, 32% of the neck/shoulder cases and 43% of the cases reporting both symptoms. The multivariate analyses showed statistically significant odds ratios for pain intensity (OR: 1.26; CI: 1.12–1.41), for high effort/no low reward (OR: 2.26; CI: 1.24–4.12), for high effort/low reward (OR: 1.95; CI: 1.09–3.50), and for low job satisfaction (OR: 3.10; CI: 1.44–6.67). Physical activity in leisure time, full-time work and overcommitment were not associated with productivity loss.
In most computer workers with neck/shoulder symptoms or hand/arm symptoms productivity loss derives from a decreased performance at work and not from sickness absence. Favorable psychosocial work characteristics might prevent productivity loss in symptomatic workers.
PMCID: PMC2039785  PMID: 17636455
Productivity; Musculoskeletal symptoms; Presenteeism; Computer workers; Psychosocial factors
2.  The effects of involving a nurse practitioner in primary care for adult patients with urinary incontinence: The PromoCon study (Promoting Continence) 
Urinary incontinence affects approximately 5% (800.000) of the Dutch population. Guidelines recommend pelvic floor muscle/bladder training for most patients. Unfortunately, general practitioners use this training only incidentally, but prescribe incontinence pads. Over 50% of patients get such pads, costing €160 million each year. Due to ageing of the population a further increase of expenses is expected. Several national reports recommend to involve nurse specialists to support general practitioners and improve patient care. The main objective of our study is to investigate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of involving nurse specialists in primary care for urinary incontinence. This paper describes the study protocol.
In a pragmatic prospective multi centre two-armed randomized controlled trial in the Netherlands the availability and involvement for the general practitioners of a nurse specialist will be compared with usual care. All consecutive patients consulting their general practitioner within 1 year for urinary incontinence and patients already diagnosed with urinary incontinence are eligible. Included patients will be followed for 12 months.
Primary outcome is severity of urinary incontinence (measured with the International Consultation on Incontinence Questionnaire Short Form (ICIQ-UI SF)). Based on ICIQ-UI SF outcome data the number of patients needed to include is 350. For the economic evaluation quality of life and costs will be measured alongside the clinical trial. For the longer term extrapolation of the economic evaluation a Markov modelling approach will be used.
This is, to our knowledge, the first trial on care for patients with urinary incontinence in primary care that includes a full economic evaluation and cost-effectiveness modelling exercise from the societal perspective. If this intervention proves to be effective and cost-effective, implementation of this intervention is considered and anticipated.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN62722772
PMCID: PMC2386786  PMID: 18412964
3.  Promotion of the mind through exercise (PROMoTE): a proof-of-concept randomized controlled trial of aerobic exercise training in older adults with vascular cognitive impairment 
BMC Neurology  2010;10:14.
Sub-cortical vascular ischaemia is the second most common etiology contributing to cognitive impairment in older adults, and is frequently under-diagnosed and under-treated. Although evidence is mounting that exercise has benefits for cognitive function among seniors, very few randomized controlled trials of exercise have been conducted in populations at high-risk for progression to dementia. Aerobic-based exercise training may be of specific benefit in delaying the progression of cognitive decline among seniors with vascular cognitive impairment by reducing key vascular risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome. Thus, we aim to carry out a proof-of-concept single-blinded randomized controlled trial primarily designed to provide preliminary evidence of efficacy aerobic-based exercise training program on cognitive and everyday function among older adults with mild sub-cortical ischaemic vascular cognitive impairment.
A proof-of-concept single-blinded randomized trial comparing a six-month, thrice-weekly, aerobic-based exercise training group with usual care on cognitive and everyday function. Seventy older adults who meet the diagnostic criteria for sub-cortical ischaemic vascular cognitive impairment as outlined by Erkinjuntti and colleagues will be recruited from a memory clinic of a metropolitan hospital. The aerobic-based exercise training will last for 6 months. Participants will be followed for an additional six months after the cessation of exercise training.
This research will be an important first step in quantifying the effect of an exercise intervention on cognitive and daily function among seniors with sub-cortical ischaemic vascular cognitive impairment, a recognized risk state for progression to dementia. Exercise has the potential to be an effective, inexpensive, and accessible intervention strategy with minimal adverse effects. Reducing the rate of cognitive decline among seniors with sub-cortical ischaemic vascular cognitive impairment could preserve independent functioning and health related quality of life in this population. This, in turn, could lead to reduced health care resource utilization costs and avoidance of early institutional care.
Trial Registration Protocol Registration System: NCT01027858.
PMCID: PMC2830197  PMID: 20158920
4.  Promoting mobility after hip fracture (ProMo): study protocol and selected baseline results of a year-long randomized controlled trial among community-dwelling older people 
To cope at their homes, community-dwelling older people surviving a hip fracture need a sufficient amount of functional ability and mobility. There is a lack of evidence on the best practices supporting recovery after hip fracture. The purpose of this article is to describe the design, intervention and demographic baseline results of a study investigating the effects of a rehabilitation program aiming to restore mobility and functional capacity among community-dwelling participants after hip fracture.
Population-based sample of over 60-year-old community-dwelling men and women operated for hip fracture (n = 81, mean age 79 years, 78% were women) participated in this study and were randomly allocated into control (Standard Care) and ProMo intervention groups on average 10 weeks post fracture and 6 weeks after discharged to home. Standard Care included written home exercise program with 5-7 exercises for lower limbs. Of all participants, 12 got a referral to physiotherapy. After discharged to home, only 50% adhered to Standard Care. None of the participants were followed-up for Standard Care or mobility recovery. ProMo-intervention included Standard Care and a year-long program including evaluation/modification of environmental hazards, guidance for safe walking, pain management, progressive home exercise program and physical activity counseling. Measurements included a comprehensive battery of laboratory tests and self-report on mobility limitation, disability, physical functional capacity and health as well as assessments for the key prerequisites for mobility, disability and functional capacity. All assessments were performed blinded at the research laboratory. No significant differences were observed between intervention and control groups in any of the demographic variables.
Ten weeks post hip fracture only half of the participants were compliant to Standard Care. No follow-up for Standard Care or mobility recovery occurred. There is a need for rehabilitation and follow-up for mobility recovery after hip fracture. However, the effectiveness of the ProMo program can only be assessed at the end of the study.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN53680197
PMCID: PMC3295703  PMID: 22145912
5.  PROMO – Real-time Prospective Motion Correction in MRI using Image-based Tracking 
Artifacts caused by patient motion during scanning remain a serious problem in most MRI applications. The prospective motion correction technique attempts to address this problem at its source by keeping the measurement coordinate system fixed with respect to the patient throughout the entire scan process. In this study, a new image-based approach for prospective motion correction is described, which utilizes three orthogonal 2D spiral navigator acquisitions (SP-Navs) along with a flexible image-based tracking method based on the Extended Kalman Filter (EKF) algorithm for online motion measurement. The SP-Nav/EKF framework offers the advantages of image-domain tracking within patient-specific regions-of-interest and reduced sensitivity to off-resonance-induced corruption of rigid-body motion estimates. The performance of the method was tested using offline computer simulations and online in vivo head motion experiments. In vivo validation results covering a broad range of staged head motions indicate a steady-state error of the SP-Nav/EKF motion estimates of less than 10 % of the motion magnitude, even for large compound motions that included rotations over 15 degrees. A preliminary in vivo application in 3D inversion recovery spoiled gradient echo (IR-SPGR) and 3D fast spin echo (FSE) sequences demonstrates the effectiveness of the SP-Nav/EKF framework for correcting 3D rigid-body head motion artifacts prospectively in high-resolution 3D MRI scans.
PMCID: PMC2892665  PMID: 20027635
Motion artifact; Kalman filter; rigid-body; Navigator
6.  PromoSer: a large-scale mammalian promoter and transcription start site identification service 
Nucleic Acids Research  2003;31(13):3554-3559.
Proximal promoters have a major impact on transcriptional regulation. Studies of the sequence-based nature of this regulation usually require collection of proximal promoter sequences for large sets of co-regulated genes. We report a newly implemented web service that facilitates extraction of user specified regions around the transcription start site of all annotated human, mouse or rat genes. The transcription start sites have been identified computationally by considering alignments of a large number of partial and full-length mRNA sequences to genomic DNA, with provision for alternative promoters. The service is publicly available at
PMCID: PMC168956  PMID: 12824364
7.  Software-recorded and self-reported duration of computer use in relation to the onset of severe arm–wrist–hand pain and neck–shoulder pain 
In both science and media, the adverse effects of a long duration of computer use at work on musculoskeletal health have long been debated. Until recently, the duration of computer use was mainly measured by self-reports, and studies using more objective measures, such as software-recorded computer duration, were lacking. The objective of this study was to examine the association between duration of computer use at work, measured with software and self-reports, and the onset of severe arm–wrist–hand and neck–shoulder symptoms.
A 2-year follow-up study was conducted between 2004 and 2006 among 1951 office workers in The Netherlands. Self-reported computer duration and other risk factors were collected at baseline and at 1-year follow-up. Computer use at work was recorded continuously with computer software for 1009 participants. Outcome questionnaires were obtained at baseline and every 3 months during follow-up. Cases were identified based on the transition within 3 months of no or minor symptoms to severe symptoms.
Self-reported duration of computer use was positively associated with the onset of both arm–wrist–hand (RR 1.9, 95% CI 1.1 to 3.1 for more than 4 h/day of total computer use at work) and neck–shoulder symptoms (RR 1.5, 95% CI 1.1 to 2.0 for more than 4 h/day of mouse use at work). The recorded duration of computer use did not show any statistically significant association with the outcomes.
In the present study, no association was found between the software-recorded duration of computer use at work and the onset of severe arm–wrist–hand and neck–shoulder symptoms using an exposure window of 3 months. In contrast, a positive association was found between the self-reported duration of computer use at work and the onset of severe arm–wrist–hand and neck–shoulder symptoms. The different findings for recorded and self-reported computer duration could not be explained satisfactorily.
PMCID: PMC3112366  PMID: 21045214
Computers; neck; upper extremity; longitudinal studies; epidemiology; ergonomics; musculoskeletal; longitudinal studies; video-display units
8.  Should office workers spend fewer hours at their computer? A systematic review of the literature 
Worldwide, millions of office workers use a computer. Reports of adverse health effects due to computer use have received considerable media attention. This systematic review summarises the evidence for a relationship between the duration of work time spent using the computer and the incidence of hand–arm and neck–shoulder symptoms and disorders. Several databases were systematically searched up to 6 November 2005. Two reviewers independently selected articles that presented a risk estimate for the duration of computer use, included an outcome measure related to hand–arm or neck–shoulder symptoms or disorders, and had a longitudinal study design. The strength of the evidence was based on methodological quality and consistency of the results. Nine relevant articles were identified, of which six were rated as high quality. Moderate evidence was concluded for a positive association between the duration of mouse use and hand–arm symptoms. For this association, indications for a dose–response relationship were found. Risk estimates were in general stronger for the hand–arm region than for the neck–shoulder region, and stronger for mouse use than for total computer use and keyboard use. A pathophysiological model focusing on the overuse of muscles during computer use supports these differences. Future studies are needed to improve our understanding of safe levels of computer use by measuring the duration of computer use in a more objective way, differentiating between total computer use, mouse use and keyboard use, attaining sufficient exposure contrast, and collecting data on disability caused by symptoms.
PMCID: PMC2078461  PMID: 17095550
9.  Identification of patterns in biological sequences at the ALGGEN server: PROMO and MALGEN 
Nucleic Acids Research  2003;31(13):3651-3653.
In this paper we present several web-based tools to identify conserved patterns in sequences. In particular we present details on the functionality of PROMO version 2.0, a program for the prediction of transcription factor binding site in a single sequence or in a group of related sequences and, of MALGEN, a tool to visualize sequence correspondences among long DNA sequences. The web tools and associated documentation can be accessed at (RESEARCH link).
PMCID: PMC169011  PMID: 12824386
10.  Self-reported workplace related ergonomic conditions as prognostic factors for musculoskeletal symptoms: the "BIT" follow up study on office workers 
Aims: To identify prognostic ergonomic and work technique factors for musculoskeletal symptoms among office workers and in a subgroup with highly monotonous repetitive computer work.
Methods: A baseline questionnaire was delivered to 5033 office workers in 11 Danish companies in the first months of 1999, and a follow up questionnaire was mailed in the last months of 2000 to 3361 respondents. A subgroup with highly monotonous repetitive computer work was formed including those that were repeating the same movements and/or tasks for at least 75% of the work time. The questionnaire contained questions on ergonomic factors and factors related to work technique. The outcome variables were based on the frequency of musculoskeletal symptoms during the last 12 months. Logistic regression analyses were used to identify prognostic factors for symptoms in the three body regions.
Results: In total, 39%, 47%, and 51% of the symptomatic subjects had a reduced frequency of symptom days in the neck/shoulder, low back, or elbow/hand region, respectively. In all regions more men than women had reduced symptoms. In the multivariate logistic regression analyses, working no more than 75% of the work time with the computer was a prognostic factor for musculoskeletal symptoms in the neck/shoulder and elbow/hand, and a high influence on the speed of work was a prognostic factor for symptoms in the low back. In the subgroup with highly monotonous repetitive computer work, the odds ratios of the prognostic factors were similar to those for the whole group of office workers.
Conclusion: When organising computer work it is important to allow for physical variation with other work tasks, thereby avoiding working with the computer during all the work time, and further to consider the worker's own influence on the speed of work.
PMCID: PMC1740969  PMID: 15723884
11.  Persistent of Neck/Shoulder Pain among Computer Office Workers with Specific Attention to Pain Expectation, Somatization Tendency, and Beliefs 
Neck and shoulder pains are the prevalent complaints among computer office workers. The purpose of this study was to assess the relationship of somatization tendency, expectation of pain, mental health and beliefs about causation of pain with persistence of neck/shoulder pains among computer office workers.
This research is a kind of prospective cohort study with 1-year follow-up. It has done among all eligible computer office workers of Shahroud universities (n = 182) in 2008-2009 and 1-year later. Data were collected using the Cultural and Psychosocial Influences on Disability questionnaire. Multiple logistic regression analysis was used to analyze the data through SPSS (P < 0.05).
At the baseline 100 (54.9%) of participants reported neck/shoulder pains and at follow-up 34.3% of them reported persistence pains. Significant relationships were found between persistence of neck/shoulder pains and negative expectation about pain in next 1-year P = 0.002, (odds ratio [OR] =8.3, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 2.1-32.9) and somatization tendency P = 0.01, (OR = 6.5, 95% CI: 1.6-27.4).
Pain expectation and somatization tendency recognized as associated risk factors of persistent neck/shoulder pain among computer operators. This confirmed some other similar studies on work-related musculoskeletal disorders in Europe countries in recent years.
PMCID: PMC4192780  PMID: 25317301
Beliefs; computer office workers; neck pain; shoulder pains; somatization tendency
12.  Complaints of the arm, neck and shoulder among computer office workers in Sudan: a prevalence study with validation of an Arabic risk factors questionnaire 
Environmental Health  2008;7:33.
Complaints of the arm, neck and/or shoulders (CANS) in general and computer-related disorders in particular affect millions of computer office workers in Western developed countries. However, with the widespread use of computer systems in developing countries, the associated musculoskeletal complaints are yet to be investigated.
To study the prevalence of work-related CANS, among computer office workers in Sudan, and to test the psychometric properties of a translated Dutch questionnaire in Arabic language.
In 2005 282 computer office workers at a mobile telecommunication company and three banks in Khartoum, Sudan, received an Arabic language version of the validated Maastricht upper extremity questionnaire (MUEQ). The questionnaire holds 109 items covering demographic characteristics, in addition to six main domains (i.e. work station, body posture, break time, job control, job demands and social support) assessing potential physical and psychosocial risk factors. Forward/backward translation of the MUQE was done independently by two different translators. Prevalence over the past year were computed for CANS. Further, the psychometric properties of the Arabic questionnaire were investigated (i.e. factor structure and reliability) and cross-validation was carried out.
The response rate of the questionnaire was 88% (n = 250). The one-year prevalence of CANS showed that 53% of the respondents could be classified as mild cases. The highest incidences were found for neck and shoulder symptoms (64% and 41% respectively). The analysis of the psychometric properties of the scale resulted in the identification of 2 factors for each of the 6 domains (i.e. office equipment, computer position, head and body posture, awkward body posture, autonomy, quality of break time, skill discretion, decision authority, time pressure, task complexity, social support, and work flow). The calculation of internal consistency and cross validation provided evidence of reliability and lack of redundancy of items.
The prevalence of CANS among the targeted population seems to correspond strongly with prevalence of CANS in Western developed countries. The Arabic translation of the MUEQ has satisfactory psychometric properties to be used to assess work-related risk factors for the development of CANS among computer office workers in Sudan.
PMCID: PMC2474607  PMID: 18588691
To compare the prevalence of common musculoskeletal symptoms and associated disability in groups of workers carrying out similar physical activities in different cultural settings.
We conducted a cross-sectional survey at factories and offices in Mumbai, India, and in the UK. A questionnaire about symptoms, disability and risk factors was administered at interview to three groups of office workers who regularly used computer keyboards (165 Indian, 67 UK of Indian sub-continental origin and 172 UK white), and three groups of workers carrying out repetitive manual tasks with the hands or arms (178 Indian, 73 UK of Indian sub-continental origin and 159 UK white). Modified Cox regression was used to calculate hazard ratios (HRs) for the prevalence of symptoms and disability by occupational group, adjusted for differences in sex, age, mental health and job satisfaction.
Reported occupational activities were similar in the three groups of office workers (frequent use of keyboards) and in the three groups of manual workers (frequent movements of the wrist or fingers, bending of the elbow, work with the hands above shoulder height, and work with the neck twisted). In comparison with the Indian manual workers, the prevalence of back, neck and arm pain was substantially higher in all of the other five occupational groups. The difference was greatest for arm pain lasting >30 days in the past year in UK white manual workers (HR 17.8, 95%CI 5.4-59.1) and UK manual workers of Indian sub-continental origin (HR 20.5, 95%CI 5.7-73.1). Office workers in India had lower rates of pain in the wrist and hand than office workers in the UK. Only 1% the Indian manual workers and 16% of the Indian office workers had ever heard of “RSI” or similar terms, as compared with 80% of the UK workers.
Our findings support the hypothesis that cultural factors such as health beliefs and expectations may have an important influence on musculoskeletal symptoms and disability. If this is correct, current controls on hazardous physical activities in the workplace may not have the benefits that would be predicted from observational epidemiology.
PMCID: PMC2740956  PMID: 18511493
Back pain; neck pain; arm pain; RSI; WRULD; beliefs; expectations
14.  Prevalence of complaints of arm, neck and shoulder among computer office workers and psychometric evaluation of a risk factor questionnaire 
Complaints of Arm Neck and Shoulder (CANS) represent a wide range of complaints, which can differ in severity from mild, periodic symptoms to severe, chronic and debilitating conditions. They are thought to be associated with both physical and psychosocial risk factors. The measurement and identification of the various risk factors for these complaints is an important step towards recognizing (a) high risk subgroups that are relevant in profiling CANS; and (b) also for developing targeted and effective intervention plans for treatment. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the prevalence of CANS in a Dutch population of computer workers and to develop a questionnaire aimed at measuring workplace physical and psychosocial risk factors for the presence of these complaints.
To examine potential workplace risk factors for the presence of CANS, the Maastricht Upper Extremity Questionnaire (MUEQ), a structured questionnaire, was developed and tested among 264 computer office workers of a branch office of the national social security institution in the Netherlands. The MUEQ holds 95 items covering demographic characteristics, in addition to seven main domains assessing potential risk factors with regard to (1) work station, (2) posture during work, (3) quality of break time, (4) job demands, (5) job control, and (6) social support. The MUEQ further contained some additional questions about the quality of the work environment and the presence of complaints in the neck, shoulder, upper and lower arm, elbow, hand and wrist. The prevalence rates of CANS in the past year were computed. Further, we investigated the psychometric properties of the MUEQ (i.e. factor structure and reliability).
The one-year prevalence rate of CANS indicated that 54% of the respondents reported at least one complaint in the arm, neck and/or shoulder. The highest prevalence rates were found for neck and shoulder symptoms (33% and 31% respectively), followed by hand and upper arm complaints (11% to 12%) and elbow, lower arm and wrist complaints (6% to 7%). The psychometric properties of the MUEQ were assessed using exploratory factor analysis which resulted in the identification of 12 factors. The calculation of internal consistency and cross validation provided evidence of reliability and lack of redundancy of items.
Neck and shoulder complaints are more frequently reported among Dutch computer workers than arm, elbow and hand complaints. The results further indicate that the MUEQ has satisfactory reliability and internal consistency when used to document CANS among computer workers in the Netherlands.
PMCID: PMC1952062  PMID: 17629925
15.  Individual and work-related risk factors for musculoskeletal pain: a cross-sectional study among Estonian computer users 
Occupational use of computers has increased rapidly over recent decades, and has been linked with various musculoskeletal disorders, which are now the most commonly diagnosed occupational diseases in Estonia. The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence of musculoskeletal pain (MSP) by anatomical region during the past 12 months and to investigate its association with personal characteristics and work-related risk factors among Estonian office workers using computers.
In a cross-sectional survey, the questionnaires were sent to the 415 computer users. Data were collected by self-administered questionnaire from 202 computer users at two universities in Estonia. The questionnaire asked about MSP at different anatomical sites, and potential individual and work related risk factors. Associations with risk factors were assessed by logistic regression.
Most respondents (77%) reported MSP in at least one anatomical region during the past 12 months. Most prevalent was pain in the neck (51%), followed by low back pain (42%), wrist/hand pain (35%) and shoulder pain (30%). Older age, right-handedness, not currently smoking, emotional exhaustion, belief that musculoskeletal problems are commonly caused by work, and low job security were the statistically significant risk factors for MSP in different anatomical sites.
A high prevalence of MSP in the neck, low back, wrist/arm and shoulder was observed among Estonian computer users. Psychosocial risk factors were broadly consistent with those reported from elsewhere. While computer users should be aware of ergonomic techniques that can make their work easier and more comfortable, presenting computer use as a serious health hazard may modify health beliefs in a way that is unhelpful.
PMCID: PMC4049436  PMID: 24884911
Computer workers; Musculoskeletal pain; Risk factors; CUPID study
16.  Work Related Risk Factors for Neck, Shoulder and Arms Complaints: A Cohort Study Among Dutch Computer Office Workers 
Introduction This study aims to investigate the relationship between work-related physical and psychosocial characteristics and complaints of the neck, shoulder and forearm/hands. Methods Data were used from a prospective Dutch cohort study among computer office workers with a follow-up period of 2 years. The study was conducted among 264 computer users. Physical and psychosocial risk factors were tested to predict the occurrence of neck, shoulder and forearm/hands complaints. Bivariate and multivariable logistic regression was used to identify the association between risk factors and outcome variables. Results The 2 year follow-up prevalence rates with 95% CI for neck complaints were 0.31 (0.28–0.37), for shoulder complaints 0.33 (0.27–0.39) and for forearm/hands complaints 0.21 (0.14–0.28). Four main predictors for the occurrence of neck and shoulder complaints were identified: (1) Irregular head and body posture [OR: 1.1 (1.0–1.2) P = 0.04]; (2) task difficulty (job demands) [OR: 1.2 (1.0–1.5) P = 0.01]; (3) number of working hours/day with the computer [OR: 1.20 (1.0–1.4) P = 0.03]; and (4) having had a previous history of complaints [OR: 7.2 (3.8–13.2) P = 0.01]. Two predictors were identified for forearm/hands complaints: time pressure (job demands) [OR: 1.20 (1.0–1.4) P = 0.03] and having had a previous history of complaints [OR: 7.1 (3.5–14.1) P = 0.06]. Conclusion This longitudinal study suggests that risk factors of upper musculoskeletal complaints in computer workers consist of a mixture of physical and psychosocial characteristics.
PMCID: PMC2775111  PMID: 19685174
Risk factors; Neck shoulder and forearm/hands; Complaints
17.  Treatment of myofascial trigger points in common shoulder disorders by physical therapy: A randomized controlled trial [ISRCTN75722066] 
Shoulder disorders are a common health problem in western societies. Several treatment protocols have been developed for the clinical management of persons with shoulder pain. However available evidence does not support any protocol as being superior over others. Systematic reviews provide some evidence that certain physical therapy interventions (i.e. supervised exercises and mobilisation) are effective in particular shoulder disorders (i.e. rotator cuff disorders, mixed shoulder disorders and adhesive capsulitis), but there is an ongoing need for high quality trials of physical therapy interventions. Usually, physical therapy consists of active exercises intended to strengthen the shoulder muscles as stabilizers of the glenohumeral joint or perform mobilisations to improve restricted mobility of the glenohumeral or adjacent joints (shoulder girdle). It is generally accepted that a-traumatic shoulder problems are the result of impingement of the subacromial structures, such as the bursa or rotator cuff tendons. Myofascial trigger points (MTrPs) in shoulder muscles may also lead to a complex of symptoms that are often seen in patients diagnosed with subacromial impingement or rotator cuff tendinopathy. Little is known about the treatment of MTrPs in patients with shoulder disorders.
The primary aim of this study is to investigate whether physical therapy modalities to inactivate MTrPs can reduce symptoms and improve shoulder function in daily activities in a population of chronic a-traumatic shoulder patients when compared to a wait-and-see strategy. In addition we investigate the recurrence rate during a one-year-follow-up period.
This paper presents the design for a randomized controlled trial to be conducted between September 2007 – September 2008, evaluating the effectiveness of a physical therapy treatment for non-traumatic shoulder complaints. One hundred subjects are included in this study. All subjects have unilateral shoulder pain for at least six months and are referred to a physical therapy practice specialized in musculoskeletal disorders of the neck-, shoulder-, and arm.
After the initial assessment patients are randomly assigned to either an intervention group or a control-group (wait and see). The primary outcome measure is the overall score of the Dutch language version of the DASH (Disabilities of Arm, Shoulder and Hand) questionnaire.
Since there is only little evidence for the efficacy of physical therapy interventions in certain shoulder disorders, there is a need for further research. We found only a few studies examining the efficacy of MTrP therapy for shoulder disorders. Therefore we will perform a randomised clinical trial of the effect of physical therapy interventions aimed to inactivate MTrPs, on pain and impairment in shoulder function in a population of chronic a-traumatic shoulder patients. We opted for an intervention strategy that best reflects daily practice. Manual high velocity thrust techniques and dry-needling are excluded. Because in most physical therapy interventions, blinding of the patient and the therapist is not possible, we will perform a randomised, controlled and observer-blinded study.
Trial Registration
This randomized clinical trial is registered at current controlled trials ISRCTN75722066.
PMCID: PMC2246010  PMID: 17983467
18.  Protocol for Shoulder function training reducing musculoskeletal pain in shoulder and neck: a randomized controlled trial 
Neck and shoulder complaints are common among employees in sedentary occupations characterized by intensive computer use. Such musculoskeletal pain - which is often associated with restricted range of motion and loss of muscle strength - is one of the most common conditions treated by physical therapists. The exact mechanism of neck pain is rarely revealed by clinical examination and the treatment has varied from passive rest to active treatments. Active treatments have often been divided into either training of the painful area or the surrounding musculature avoiding direct training of the painful area. Our study investigates the effect of the latter approach.
A randomized controlled trial of 10 weeks duration is currently being conducted. Employed office workers with severe neck-shoulder pain are randomized to 3 × 20 min shoulder function training with training supervision or to a reference group receiving advice to stay physically active. Shoulder function training primarily focuses on the serratus anterior and lower trapezius muscle with only minimal activation the upper trapezius.
An announcement was sent to the administrative section of the university including jobs characterized by intensive computer work. The first 100 positive replies entered the study. Among these inclusion criteria were pain intensity in the neck/shoulder of at least 3 on a 0-9 scale. Exclusion criteria were cardiovascular disease, trauma, hypertension, or serious chronic disease. Before and after the intervention period the participants replied to a questionnaire about musculoskeletal disorders and work disability, and underwent a standardized clinical examination of the neck and shoulder girdle. Further, on a weekly basis the participants log pain intensity of the neck and shoulder during the previous week.
The primary outcome measure is pain in the neck and shoulders at week 10 based on the weekly pain registration and results from the clinical examination. Secondary outcomes are strength and work disability.
Trial Registration
ClinicalTrials (NCT): NCT01205542
PMCID: PMC3033867  PMID: 21235752
19.  Incidence and Predictors of Hand–Arm Musculoskeletal Complaints among Vibration-exposed African Cassava and Corn Millers 
Safety and Health at Work  2014;5(3):131-135.
Cassava and corn milling is a growing small-scale enterprise in Africa. We aimed to determine the incidence of hand–arm musculoskeletal complaints among vibration-exposed Congolese cassava and corn millers in the previous 12 months.
A cross-sectional study was conducted, prior to a follow-up study, from March to May 2013 among cassava/corn millers in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo, in which 365 millers age-matched to 365 civil workers anonymously answered a questionnaire.
Overall incidence of hand–arm musculoskeletal complaints was 25.8% in millers (vs. 5.2% in civil workers; p < 0.001). The risk of experiencing musculoskeletal symptoms was seven times higher in millers [vs. civil workers; odds ratio (OR) = 7.10; 95% confidence interval (CI): 4.03–12.50; p < 0.0001]; 2.4 times higher in smoking millers (vs. smoking civil office workers; OR = 2.36; 95% CI: 1.42–3.88; p < 0.001); 3.6 times higher in millers with longer daily exposure (> 8 hours; vs. those working ≤ 8 hours; OR = 3.56; 95% CI: 1.93–3.61; p = 0.026); and 7.4 times higher in young millers (vs. older millers, OR = 7.39; 95% CI: 1.29–75.52; p < 0.001). Smoking, number of cigarettes, and daily exposure duration were positively correlated with musculoskeletal complaints.
This study revealed a relatively high incidence of musculoskeletal complaints among African cassava and corn millers. The use of anti-vibration protective equipment and the regulation of this hazardous occupation may reduce the burden of musculoskeletal disorders in millers.
PMCID: PMC4213888  PMID: 25379326
hand-arm vibration exposure; incidence; miller; musculoskeletal complaint
20.  Nerve conduction in relation to vibration exposure - a non-positive cohort study 
Peripheral neuropathy is one of the principal clinical disorders in workers with hand-arm vibration syndrome. Electrophysiological studies aimed at defining the nature of the injury have provided conflicting results. One reason for this lack of consistency might be the sparsity of published longitudinal etiological studies with both good assessment of exposure and a well-defined measure of disease. Against this background we measured conduction velocities in the hand after having assessed vibration exposure over 21 years in a cohort of manual workers.
The study group consisted of 155 male office and manual workers at an engineering plant that manufactured pulp and paper machinery. The study has a longitudinal design regarding exposure assessment and a cross-sectional design regarding the outcome of nerve conduction. Hand-arm vibration dose was calculated as the product of self-reported occupational exposure, collected by questionnaire and interviews, and the measured or estimated hand-arm vibration exposure in 1987, 1992, 1997, 2002, and 2008. Distal motor latencies in median and ulnar nerves and sensory nerve conduction over the carpal tunnel and the finger-palm segments in the median nerve were measured in 2008. Before the nerve conduction measurement, the subjects were systemically warmed by a bicycle ergometer test.
There were no differences in distal latencies between subjects exposed to hand-arm vibration and unexposed subjects, neither in the sensory conduction latencies of the median nerve, nor in the motor conduction latencies of the median and ulnar nerves. Seven subjects (9%) in the exposed group and three subjects (12%) in the unexposed group had both pathological sensory nerve conduction at the wrist and symptoms suggestive of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Nerve conduction measurements of peripheral hand nerves revealed no exposure-response association between hand-arm vibration exposure and distal neuropathy of the large myelinated fibers in a cohort of male office and manual workers.
PMCID: PMC2923164  PMID: 20642848
21.  Computer work and self-reported variables on anthropometrics, computer usage, work ability, productivity, pain, and physical activity 
Computer users often report musculoskeletal complaints and pain in the upper extremities and the neck-shoulder region. However, recent epidemiological studies do not report a relationship between the extent of computer use and work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSD).
The aim of this study was to conduct an explorative analysis on short and long-term pain complaints and work-related variables in a cohort of Danish computer users.
A structured web-based questionnaire including questions related to musculoskeletal pain, anthropometrics, work-related variables, work ability, productivity, health-related parameters, lifestyle variables as well as physical activity during leisure time was designed. Six hundred and ninety office workers completed the questionnaire responding to an announcement posted in a union magazine. The questionnaire outcomes, i.e., pain intensity, duration and locations as well as anthropometrics, work-related variables, work ability, productivity, and level of physical activity, were stratified by gender and correlations were obtained.
Women reported higher pain intensity, longer pain duration as well as more locations with pain than men (P < 0.05). In parallel, women scored poorer work ability and ability to fulfil the requirements on productivity than men (P < 0.05). Strong positive correlations were found between pain intensity and pain duration for the forearm, elbow, neck and shoulder (P < 0.001). Moderate negative correlations were seen between pain intensity and work ability/productivity (P < 0.001).
The present results provide new key information on pain characteristics in office workers. The differences in pain characteristics, i.e., higher intensity, longer duration and more pain locations as well as poorer work ability reported by women workers relate to their higher risk of contracting WMSD. Overall, this investigation confirmed the complex interplay between anthropometrics, work ability, productivity, and pain perception among computer users.
PMCID: PMC3751662  PMID: 23915209
Computer use; Musculoskeletal complaints; Arm-shoulder pain; Gender; Sex
22.  Work related complaints of neck, shoulder and arm among computer office workers: a cross-sectional evaluation of prevalence and risk factors in a developing country 
Environmental Health  2011;10:70.
Complaints of arms, neck and shoulders (CANS) is common among computer office workers. We evaluated an aetiological model with physical/psychosocial risk-factors.
We invited 2,500 computer office workers for the study. Data on prevalence and risk-factors of CANS were collected by validated Maastricht-Upper-extremity-Questionnaire. Workstations were evaluated by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Visual-Display-Terminal workstation-checklist. Participants' knowledge and awareness was evaluated by a set of expert-validated questions. A binary logistic regression analysis investigated relationships/correlations between risk-factors and symptoms.
Sample size was 2,210. Mean age 30.8 ± 8.1 years, 50.8% were males. The 1-year prevalence of CANS was 56.9%, commonest region of complaint was forearm/hand (42.6%), followed by neck (36.7%) and shoulder/arm (32.0%). In those with CANS, 22.7% had taken treatment from a health care professional, only in 1.1% seeking medical advice an occupation-related injury had been suspected/diagnosed. In addition 9.3% reported CANS-related absenteeism from work, while 15.4% reported CANS causing disruption of normal activities. A majority of evaluated workstations in all participants (88.4%,) and in those with CANS (91.9%) had OSHA non-compliant workstations. In the binary logistic regression analyses female gender, daily computer usage, incorrect body posture, bad work-habits, work overload, poor social support and poor ergonomic knowledge were associated with CANS and its' severity In a multiple logistic regression analysis controlling for age, gender and duration of occupation, incorrect body posture, bad work-habits and daily computer usage were significant independent predictors of CANS
The prevalence of work-related CANS among computer office workers in Sri Lanka, a developing, South Asian country is high and comparable to prevalence in developed countries. Work-related physical factors, psychosocial factors and lack of awareness were all important associations of CANS and effective preventive strategies need to address all three areas.
PMCID: PMC3162880  PMID: 21816073
Computer workers; Ergonomics; Prevalence; Risk factors; Musculoskeletal diseases
23.  Effectiveness of a questionnaire based intervention programme on the prevalence of arm, shoulder and neck symptoms, risk factors and sick leave in computer workers: A cluster randomised controlled trial in an occupational setting 
Arm, shoulder and neck symptoms are very prevalent among computer workers. In an attempt to reduce these symptoms, a large occupational health service in the Netherlands developed a preventive programme on exposure to risk factors, prevalence of arm, shoulder and neck symptoms, and sick leave in computer workers. The purpose of this study was to assess the effectiveness of this intervention programme.
The study was a randomised controlled trial. The participants were assigned to either the intervention group or the usual care group by means of cluster randomisation. At baseline and after 12 months of follow-up, the participants completed the RSI QuickScan questionnaire on exposure to the risk factors and on the prevalence of arm, shoulder and neck symptoms. A tailor-made intervention programme was proposed to participants with a high risk profile at baseline. Examples of implemented interventions are an individual workstation check, a visit to the occupational health physician and an education programme on the prevention of arm, shoulder and neck symptoms. The primary outcome measure was the prevalence of arm, shoulder and neck symptoms. Secondary outcome measures were the scores on risk factors for arm, shoulder and neck symptoms and the number of days of sick leave. Sick leave data was obtained from the companies. Multilevel analyses were used to test the effectiveness.
Of the 1,673 persons invited to participate in the study, 1,183 persons (71%) completed the baseline questionnaire and 741 persons participated at baseline as well as at 12-month follow-up. At 12-month follow-up, the intervention group showed a significant positive change (OR = 0.48) in receiving information on healthy computer use, as well as a significant positive change regarding risk indicators for work posture and movement, compared to the usual care group. There were no significant differences in changes in the prevalence of arm, shoulder and neck symptoms or sick leave between the intervention and usual care group.
The effects of the RSI QuickScan intervention programme were small, possibly as a result of difficulties with the implementation process of the proposed interventions. However, some significant positive effects were found as to an increase in receiving education and a decrease in exposure to adverse postures and movements. With regard to symptoms and sick leave, only small and non-significant effects were found.
Trial registration
Netherlands National Trial Register NTR1117
PMCID: PMC2890602  PMID: 20507548
24.  The modulation of upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders for a knowledge worker with chiropractic care and applied ergonomics: a case study 
This report describes the case management of musculoskeletal disorders for an employee in a college work environment using both chiropractic care and applied ergonomics.
Clinical Findings
A 54-year-old male office worker presented with decreased motor function in both wrists; intermittent moderate-to-severe headaches; and pain or discomfort in the neck, both shoulders, left hand and wrist, and lumbosacral region resulting from injuries sustained during recreational soccer and from excessive forces and awkward postures when interacting with his home and office computer workstations.
Intervention and Results
Ergonomic training, surveillance, retrofitted equipment with new furniture, and an emphasis on adopting healthy work-style behaviors were applied in combination with regular chiropractic care. Baseline ergonomic job task analysis identified risk factors and delineated appropriate control measures to improve the subject's interface with his office workstation. Serial reevaluations at 3-month, 1-year, and 2-year periods recorded changes to the participant's pain, discomfort, and work-style behaviors. At end of study and relative to baseline, pain scale improved from 4/10 to 2/10; general disability improved from 4 to 0; and hand grip strength (pounds) increased from 20 to 105 (left) and 45 to 100 (right). Healthy work habits and postures adopted in the 3-month to 1-year period regressed to baseline exposures for 3 of 6 risk priorities identified in the ergonomic job task analysis.
The patient responded positively to the intervention of chiropractic care and applied ergonomics.
PMCID: PMC3610949  PMID: 23997724
Human engineering; Chiropractic; Musculoskeletal pain; Posture
25.  Risk factors for neck pain in office workers: a prospective study 
Persisting neck pain is common in society. It has been reported that the prevalence of neck pain in office workers is much higher than in the general population. The costs to the worker, employer and society associated with work-related neck pain are known to be considerable and are escalating. The factors that place office workers at greater risk of developing neck pain are not understood. The aim of this study is to investigate the incidence and risk factors of work-related neck pain in Australian office workers.
We will conduct a prospective cohort study. A cohort of office workers without neck pain will be followed over a 12 month period, after baseline measurement of potential risk factors. The categories of risk factors being evaluated are physical (cervical spine posture, range of movement, muscle endurance and exercise frequency), demographic (age, sex), work environment (sitting duration, frequency of breaks) and psychosocial (psychological distress and psychosocial work factors). Cox regression analysis will be used to identify risk factors associated with work-related neck pain, and will be expressed as hazard ratios with 95% confidence intervals. The data will also enable the incidence of neck pain in this population to be estimated.
In addition to clarifying the magnitude of this occupational health problem these data could inform policy in workplaces and provide the basis for primary prevention of neck pain in office workers, targeting the identified risk factors.
PMCID: PMC1629016  PMID: 17062165

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