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1.  Effectiveness of a Worksite Mindfulness-Related Multi-Component Health Promotion Intervention on Work Engagement and Mental Health: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e84118.
Objectives
The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a worksite mindfulness-related multi-component health promotion intervention on work engagement, mental health, need for recovery and mindfulness.
Methods
In a randomized controlled trial design, 257 workers of two research institutes participated. The intervention group (n = 129) received a targeted mindfulness-related training, followed by e-coaching. The total duration of the intervention was 6 months. Data on work engagement, mental health, need for recovery and mindfulness were collected using questionnaires at baseline and after 6 and 12 months follow-up. Effects were analyzed using linear mixed effect models.
Results
There were no significant differences in work engagement, mental health, need for recovery and mindfulness between the intervention and control group after either 6- or 12-months follow-up. Additional analyses in mindfulness-related training compliance subgroups (high and low compliance versus the control group as a reference) and subgroups based on baseline work engagement scores showed no significant differences either.
Conclusions
This study did not show an effect of this worksite mindfulness-related multi-component health promotion intervention on work engagement, mental health, need for recovery and mindfulness after 6 and 12 months.
Trial registration
Netherlands Trial Register NTR2199
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0084118
PMCID: PMC3904825  PMID: 24489648
2.  Effectiveness of a worksite mindfulness-based multi-component intervention on lifestyle behaviors 
Introduction
Overweight and obesity are associated with an increased risk of morbidity. Mindfulness training could be an effective strategy to optimize lifestyle behaviors related to body weight gain. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a worksite mindfulness-based multi-component intervention on vigorous physical activity in leisure time, sedentary behavior at work, fruit intake and determinants of these behaviors. The control group received information on existing lifestyle behavior- related facilities that were already available at the worksite.
Methods
In a randomized controlled trial design (n = 257), 129 workers received a mindfulness training, followed by e-coaching, lunch walking routes and fruit. Outcome measures were assessed at baseline and after 6 and 12 months using questionnaires. Physical activity was also measured using accelerometers. Effects were analyzed using linear mixed effect models according to the intention-to-treat principle. Linear regression models (complete case analyses) were used as sensitivity analyses.
Results
There were no significant differences in lifestyle behaviors and determinants of these behaviors between the intervention and control group after 6 or 12 months. The sensitivity analyses showed effect modification for gender in sedentary behavior at work at 6-month follow-up, although the main analyses did not.
Conclusions
This study did not show an effect of a worksite mindfulness-based multi-component intervention on lifestyle behaviors and behavioral determinants after 6 and 12 months. The effectiveness of a worksite mindfulness-based multi-component intervention as a health promotion intervention for all workers could not be established.
doi:10.1186/1479-5868-11-9
PMCID: PMC3905927  PMID: 24467802
3.  The relation between body mass index and musculoskeletal symptoms in the working population 
Background
The primary aim of this study was to investigate the association between BMI and musculoskeletal symptoms in interaction with physical workload. In addition, it was aimed to obtain insight into whether overweight and obesity are associated with an increase in occurrence of symptoms and/or decrease in recovery from symptoms.
Methods
Based on a large working population sample (n = 44,793), using the data from The Netherlands Working Conditions Survey (NWCS), logistic regression analyses were carried out to investigate the association between BMI and musculoskeletal symptoms, with adjustment for potential confounders. Longitudinal data from the Netherlands Working Conditions Cohort Study (NWCCS) of 7,909 respondents was used for the second research aim (i.e., to investigate the transition in musculoskeletal symptoms).
Results
For high BMI an increased 12-month prevalence of musculoskeletal symptoms was found (overweight: OR 1.13, 95% CI: 1.08-1.19 and obesity: OR 1.28, 95% CI: 1.19-1.39). The association was modified by physical workload, with a stronger association for employees with low physical workload than for those with high physical workload. Obesity was related to developing musculoskeletal symptoms (OR 1.37, 95% CI: 1.05-1.79) and inversely related to recovery from symptoms (OR 0.76, 95% CI: 0.59-0.97).
Conclusion
BMI was associated with musculoskeletal symptoms, in particular symptoms of the lower extremity. Furthermore, the association differed for employees with high or low physical workload. Compared to employees with normal weight, obese employees had higher risk for developing symptoms as well as less recovery from symptoms. This study supports the role of biomechanical factors for the relationship between BMI and symptoms in the lower extremity.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-14-238
PMCID: PMC3751130  PMID: 23937768
Musculoskeletal disorders; Overweight/obesity; Physical workload; Worker population
4.  An exploratory study of associations of physical activity with mental health and work engagement 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:558.
Background
Previous studies have found moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) to be associated with a decreased risk of mental disorders. Although the focus in the field of psychology has shifted towards human strengths and optimal functioning, studies examining associations between MVPA and mental health in general (MH) and between MVPA and well-being are scarce. An indicator of work-related well-being is work engagement (WE). The aim of this study was to explore the associations between MVPA and MH, and between MVPA and WE.
Methods
In this study, a total of 257 employees from two research institutes, self-reported their MVPA, MH and level of WE. In addition, a randomly chosen subgroup (n=100) wore an Actigraph accelerometer for a 1-week period to measure their MVPA objectively. Crude and adjusted associations between MVPA and both WE and MH were analyzed using linear regression analyses.
Results
There was no statistically significant association between self-reported MVPA and mental health, resulting from both the crude (b=0.058, 95% CI -0.118 - 0.235) and adjusted analyses (b=0.026; 95% CI -0.158- 0.210), nor between objectively measured MVPA and mental health for both crude and adjusted analyses (b=-0.144; 95% CI -1.315- 1.027; b=-0.199; 95% CI 1.417- 1.018 respectively). There was also no significant association between self-reported MVPA and work engagement (crude: b=0.005; 95% CI -0.005-0.016, adjusted: b= 0.002; 95% CI -0.010- 0.013), nor between objectively measured MVPA and work engagement (crude: b= 0.012; 95% CI -0.084- 0.060, adjusted: b=0.007; 95% CI -0.083-0.069).
Conclusions
Although the beneficial effects of MVPA on the negative side of MH (i.e. mental disorders) have been established in previous studies, this study found no evidence for the beneficial effects of MVPA on positive side of MH (i.e. well-being). The possible difference in how the physical activity-mental health relationship works for negative and positive sides of MH should be considered in future studies.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-558
PMCID: PMC3682939  PMID: 23758966
Work engagement; Physical activity; Accelerometry
5.  Bridging the gap between the economic evaluation literature and daily practice in occupational health: a qualitative study among decision-makers in the healthcare sector 
Background
Continued improvements in occupational health can only be ensured if decisions regarding the implementation and continuation of occupational health and safety interventions (OHS interventions) are based on the best available evidence. To ensure that this is the case, scientific evidence should meet the needs of decision-makers. As a first step in bridging the gap between the economic evaluation literature and daily practice in occupational health, this study aimed to provide insight into the occupational health decision-making process and information needs of decision-makers.
Methods
An exploratory qualitative study was conducted with a purposeful sample of occupational health decision-makers in the Ontario healthcare sector. Eighteen in-depth interviews were conducted to explore the process by which occupational health decisions are made and the importance given to the financial implications of OHS interventions. Twenty-five structured telephone interviews were conducted to explore the sources of information used during the decision-making process, and decision-makers’ knowledge on economic evaluation methods. In-depth interview data were analyzed according to the constant comparative method. For the structured telephone interviews, summary statistics were prepared.
Results
The occupational health decision-making process generally consists of three stages: initiation stage, establishing the need for an intervention; pre-implementation stage, developing an intervention and its business case in order to receive senior management approval; and implementation and evaluation stage, implementing and evaluating an intervention. During this process, information on the financial implications of OHS interventions was found to be of great importance, especially the employer’s costs and benefits. However, scientific evidence was rarely consulted, sound ex-post program evaluations were hardly ever performed, and there seemed to be a need to advance the economic evaluation skill set of decision-makers.
Conclusions
Financial information is particularly important at the front end of implementation decisions, and can be a key deciding factor of whether to go forward with a new OHS intervention. In addition, it appears that current practice in occupational health in the healthcare sector is not solidly grounded in evidence-based decision-making and strategies should be developed to improve this.
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-8-57
PMCID: PMC3674944  PMID: 23731570
Occupational health and safety; Interventions; Decision-making process; Information needs; Evidence-based practice
6.  Pathways through which health influences early retirement: a qualitative study 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:292.
Background
Due to the aeging of the population, there is a societal need for workers to prolong their working lives. In the Netherlands, many employees still leave the workforce before the official retirement age of 65. Previous quantitative research showed that poor self-perceived health is a risk factor of (non-disability) early retirement. However, little is known on how poor health may lead to early retirement, and why poor health leads to early retirement in some employees, but not in others. Therefore, the present qualitative study aims to identify in which ways health influences early retirement.
Methods
Face-to-face semi-structured interviews were conducted with 30 employees (60–64 years) who retired before the official retirement age of 65. Participants were selected from the Study on Transitions in Employment, Ability and Motivation. The interviews were transcribed verbatim, a summary was made including a timeline, and the interviews were open coded.
Results
In 15 of the 30 persons, health played a role in early retirement. Both poor and good health influenced early retirement. For poor health, four pathways were identified. First, employees felt unable to work at all due to health problems. Second, health problems resulted in a self-perceived (future) decline in the ability to work, and employees chose to retire early. Third, employees with health problems were afraid of a further decline in health, and chose to retire early. Fourth, employees with poor health retired early because they felt pushed out by their employer, although they themselves did not experience a reduced work ability. A good health influenced early retirement, since persons wanted to enjoy life while their health still allowed to do so. The financial opportunity to retire sometimes triggered the influence of poor health on early retirement, and often triggered the influence of good health. Employees and employers barely discussed opportunities to prolong working life.
Conclusions
Poor and good health influence early retirement via several different pathways. To prolong working life, a dialogue between employers and employees and tailored work-related interventions may be helpful.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-292
PMCID: PMC3621068  PMID: 23551994
Early retirement; Health; Qualitative study; Dialogue
7.  Effectiveness of an intervention at construction worksites on work engagement, social support, physical workload, and need for recovery: results from a cluster randomized controlled trial 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:1008.
Background
To prolong sustainable healthy working lives of construction workers, a worksite prevention program was developed which aimed to improve the health and work ability of construction workers. The aim of the current study was to investigate the effectiveness of this program on social support at work, work engagement, physical workload and need for recovery.
Methods
Fifteen departments from six construction companies participated in this cluster randomized controlled trial; 8 departments (n=171 workers) were randomized to an intervention group and 7 departments (n=122 workers) to a control group. The intervention consisted of two individual training sessions of a physical therapist to lower the physical workload, a Rest-Break tool to improve the balance between work and recovery, and two empowerment training sessions to increase the influence of the construction workers at the worksite. Data on work engagement, social support at work, physical workload, and need for recovery were collected at baseline, and at three, six and 12 months after the start of the intervention using questionnaires.
Results
No differences between the intervention and control group were found for work engagement, social support at work, and need for recovery. At 6 months follow-up, the control group reported a small but statistically significant reduction of physical workload.
Conclusion
The intervention neither improved social support nor work engagement, nor was it effective in reducing the physical workload and need for recovery among construction workers.
Trial registration
NTR1278
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-1008
PMCID: PMC3534539  PMID: 23171354
Construction industry; Sustainable employability; Intervention study; Empowerment; Physical therapist
8.  Cumulative Low Back Load at Work as a Risk Factor of Low Back Pain: A Prospective Cohort Study 
Purpose Much research has been performed on physical exposures during work (e.g. lifting, trunk flexion or body vibrations) as risk factors for low back pain (LBP), however results are inconsistent. Information on the effect of doses (e.g. spinal force or low back moments) on LBP may be more reliable but is lacking yet. The aim of the present study was to investigate the prospective relationship of cumulative low back loads (CLBL) with LBP and to compare the association of this mechanical load measure to exposure measures used previously. Methods The current study was part of the Study on Musculoskeletal disorders, Absenteeism and Health (SMASH) study in which 1,745 workers completed questionnaires. Physical load at the workplace was assessed by video-observations and force measurements. These measures were used to calculate CLBL. Furthermore, a 3-year follow-up was conducted to assess the occurrence of LBP. Logistic regressions were performed to assess associations of CLBL and physical risk factors established earlier (i.e. lifting and working in a flexed posture) with LBP. Furthermore, CLBL and the risk factors combined were assessed as predictors in logistic regression analyses to assess the association with LBP. Results Results showed that CLBL is a significant risk factor for LBP (OR: 2.06 (1.32–3.20)). Furthermore, CLBL had a more consistent association with LBP than two of the three risk factors reported earlier. Conclusions From these results it can be concluded that CLBL is a risk factor for the occurrence of LBP, having a more consistent association with LBP compared to most risk factors reported earlier.
doi:10.1007/s10926-012-9375-z
PMCID: PMC3563950  PMID: 22718286
Low back loading; Ergonomics; Workers; Longitudinal studies; Observational studies
9.  VIP in construction: systematic development and evaluation of a multifaceted health programme aiming to improve physical activity levels and dietary patterns among construction workers 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:89.
Background
The prevalence of both overweight and musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) in the construction industry is high. Many interventions in the occupational setting aim at the prevention and reduction of these health problems, but it is still unclear how these programmes should be designed. To determine the effectiveness of interventions on these health outcomes randomised controlled trials (RCTs) are needed. The aim of this study is to systematically develop a tailored intervention for prevention and reduction of overweight and MSD among construction workers and to describe the evaluation study regarding its (cost-)effectiveness.
Methods/Design
The Intervention Mapping (IM) protocol was applied to develop and implement a tailored programme aimed at the prevention and reduction of overweight and MSD. The (cost-) effectiveness of the intervention programme will be evaluated using an RCT. Furthermore, a process evaluation will be conducted. The research population will consist of blue collar workers of a large construction company in the Netherlands.
Intervention
The intervention programme will be aimed at improving (vigorous) physical activity levels and healthy dietary behaviour and will consist of tailored information, face-to-face and telephone counselling, training instruction (a fitness "card" to be used for exercises), and materials designed for the intervention (overview of the company health promoting facilities, waist circumference measuring tape, pedometer, BMI card, calorie guide, recipes, and knowledge test).
Main study parameters/endpoints
The intervention effect on body weight and waist circumference (primary outcome measures), as well as on lifestyle behaviour, MSD, fitness, CVD risk indicators, and work-related outcomes (i.e. productivity, sick leave) (secondary outcome measures) will be assessed.
Discussion
The development of the VIP in construction intervention led to a health programme tailored to the needs of construction workers. This programme, if proven effective, can be directly implemented.
Trial registration
Netherlands Trial Register (NTR): NTR2095
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-89
PMCID: PMC3280176  PMID: 22289212
Obesity/overweight; Musculoskeletal disorders; RCT; Energy balance related behaviour; Physical activity; Dietary behaviour; Construction workers; Intervention mapping
10.  Mindful "Vitality in Practice": an intervention to improve the work engagement and energy balance among workers; the development and design of the randomised controlled trial 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:736.
Background
Modern working life has become more mental and less physical in nature, contributing to impaired mental health and a disturbed energy balance. This may result in mental health problems and overweight. Both are significant threats to the health of workers and thus also a financial burden for society, including employers. Targeting work engagement and energy balance could prevent impaired mental health and overweight, respectively.
Methods/Design
The study population consists of highly educated workers in two Dutch research institutes. The intervention was systematically developed, based on the Intervention Mapping (IM) protocol, involving workers and management in the process. The workers' needs were assessed by combining the results of interviews, focus group discussions and a questionnaire with available literature. Suitable methods and strategies were selected resulting in an intervention including: eight weeks of customized mindfulness training, followed by eight sessions of e-coaching and supporting elements, such as providing fruit and snack vegetables at the workplace, lunch walking routes, and a buddy system. The effects of the intervention will be evaluated in a RCT, with measurements at baseline, six months (T1) and 12 months (T2). In addition, cost-effectiveness and process of the intervention will also be evaluated.
Discussion
At baseline the level of work engagement of the sample was "average". Of the study population, 60.1% did not engage in vigorous physical activity at all. An average working day consists of eight sedentary hours. For the Phase II RCT, there were no significant differences between the intervention and the control group at baseline, except for vigorous physical activity. The baseline characteristics of the study population were congruent with the results of the needs assessment. The IM protocol used for the systematic development of the intervention produced an appropriate intervention to test in the planned RCT.
Trial registration number
Netherlands Trial Register (NTR): NTR2199
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-736
PMCID: PMC3189893  PMID: 21951433
Work Engagement; Energy balance related behaviours; Physical Activity; Sedentary behaviour; Dietary behaviour; RCT; Mindfulness
11.  Software-recorded and self-reported duration of computer use in relation to the onset of severe arm–wrist–hand pain and neck–shoulder pain 
Objectives
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1136/oem.2010.056267
PMCID: PMC3112366  PMID: 21045214
Computers; neck; upper extremity; longitudinal studies; epidemiology; ergonomics; musculoskeletal; longitudinal studies; video-display units
12.  What are possible barriers and facilitators to implementation of a Participatory Ergonomics programme? 
Background
Low back pain (LBP) and neck pain (NP) are common among workers. Participatory Ergonomics (PE) is used as an implementation strategy to prevent these symptoms. By following the steps of PE, working groups composed and prioritised ergonomic measures, and developed an implementation plan. Working group members were responsible to implement the ergonomic measures in their departments. Little is known about factors that hamper (barriers) or enhance (facilitators) the implementation of ergonomic measures. This study aimed to identify and understand the possible barriers and facilitators that were perceived during implementation.
Methods
This study is embedded in a cluster randomised controlled trial that investigated the effectiveness of PE to prevent LBP and NP among workers. For the purpose of the current study, questionnaires were sent to 81 working group members. Their answers were used to make a first inventory of possible barriers and facilitators to implementation. Based on the questionnaire information, 15 semi-structured interviews were held to explore the barriers and facilitators in more detail. All interviews were audio taped, transcribed verbatim, and analysed according to a systematic approach.
Results
All possible barriers and facilitators were obtained from questionnaire data, indicating that the semi-structured interviews did not yield information about new factors. Various barriers and facilitators were experienced. The presence of implementation plans for ergonomic measures that were already approved by the management facilitated implementation before the working group meeting. In these cases, PE served as a strategy to improve the implementation of the approved measures. Furthermore, the findings showed that the composition of a working group (i.e., including decision makers and a worker who led the implementation process) was important. Moreover, stakeholder involvement and collaboration were reported to considerably improve implementation.
Conclusions
This study showed that the working group as well as stakeholder involvement and collaboration were important facilitating factors. Moreover, PE was used as a strategy to improve the implementation of existing ergonomic measures. The results can be used to improve PE programmes, and thereby may contribute to the prevention of LBP and NP.
Trial registration number
ISRCTN27472278
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-5-64
PMCID: PMC2936443  PMID: 20735822
13.  Process evaluation of a participatory ergonomics programme to prevent low back pain and neck pain among workers 
Background
Both low back pain (LBP) and neck pain (NP) are major occupational health problems. In the workplace, participatory ergonomics (PE) is frequently used on musculoskeletal disorders. However, evidence on the effectiveness of PE to prevent LBP and NP obtained from randomised controlled trials (RCTs) is scarce. This study evaluates the process of the Stay@Work participatory ergonomics programme, including the perceived implementation of the prioritised ergonomic measures.
Methods
This cluster-RCT was conducted at the departments of four Dutch companies (a railway transportation company, an airline company, a steel company, and a university including its university medical hospital). Directly after the randomisation outcome, intervention departments formed a working group that followed the steps of PE during a six-hour working group meeting. Guided by an ergonomist, working groups identified and prioritised risk factors for LBP and NP, and composed and prioritised ergonomic measures. Within three months after the meeting, working groups had to implement the prioritised ergonomic measures at their department. Data on various process components (recruitment, reach, fidelity, satisfaction, and implementation components, i.e., dose delivered and dose received) were collected and analysed on two levels: department (i.e., working group members from intervention departments) and participant (i.e., workers from intervention departments).
Results
A total of 19 intervention departments (n = 10 with mental workloads, n = 1 with a light physical workload, n = 4 departments with physical and mental workloads, and n = 4 with heavy physical workloads) were recruited for participation, and the reach among working group members who participated was high (87%). Fidelity and satisfaction towards the PE programme rated by the working group members was good (7.3 or higher). The same was found for the Stay@Work ergocoach training (7.5 or higher). In total, 66 ergonomic measures were prioritised by the working groups. Altogether, 34% of all prioritised ergonomic measures were perceived as implemented (dose delivered), while the workers at the intervention departments perceived 26% as implemented (dose received).
Conclusions
PE can be a successful method to develop and to prioritise ergonomic measures to prevent LBP and NP. Despite the positive rating of the PE programme the implementation of the prioritised ergonomic measures was lower than expected.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN27472278
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-5-65
PMCID: PMC2936444  PMID: 20735823
14.  A worksite prevention program for construction workers: design of a randomized controlled trial 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:336.
Background
A worksite prevention program was developed to promote the work ability of construction workers and thereby prolong a healthy working life. The objective of this paper is to present the design of a randomized controlled trial evaluating the effectiveness of that intervention program compared with usual care for construction workers.
Methods
The study is designed as a randomized controlled trial with a follow-up of one year. Employees eligible for this study are construction workers performing actual construction work. The worksite intervention will be compared with usual care. This intervention was developed by using the Intervention Mapping approach and consists of the following components: (1) two individual training sessions of a physical therapist to lower the physical workload, (2) a Rest-Break tool to improve the balance between work and recovery, and (3) two empowerment training sessions to increase the influence of the construction workers at the worksite. Outcome measures are assessed at baseline, 3, 6, and 12 months. The primary outcome measures of this study are work ability and health-related quality of life. Secondary outcome measures include need for recovery, musculoskeletal complaints, work engagement and self efficacy. Cost-effectiveness will be evaluated from the company perspective. Moreover, a process evaluation will be conducted.
Discussion
The feasibility of the intervention and the study has been enhanced by creating an intervention program that explicitly appeals to construction workers and will not interfere too much with the ongoing construction. The feasibility and effectiveness of this worksite prevention program will be investigated by means of an effect- and a process evaluation. If proven effective, this worksite prevention program can be implemented on a larger scale within the construction industry.
Trial Registration
NTR1278
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-336
PMCID: PMC2896359  PMID: 20546568
15.  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 
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-11-99
PMCID: PMC2890602  PMID: 20507548
16.  Why is the information on cost effectiveness of interventions to manage neck and upper limb symptoms still lacking, while all stakeholders would benefit from this information? 
High quality studies that evaluate cost‐effective interventions in neck and upper extremity musculoskeletal conditions are needed
doi:10.1136/oem.2006.030262
PMCID: PMC2092545  PMID: 17449566
17.  Age-related differences in muscular capacity among workers 
Purpose
To quantify the age-related changes in muscular capacity in a working population, and to investigate whether these changes are dependent on sports participation.
Methods
Data were used from the longitudinal study on musculoskeletal disorders, absenteeism, stress and health (n = 1,800). At baseline, isokinetic lifting strength and static muscle endurance were assessed, and endurance measurements were repeated after 3 years of follow-up. Sports participation was assessed using a questionnaire.
Results
Cross-sectionally, static endurance of the neck/shoulder muscles was highest among older workers, but decreased longitudinally among all age groups. Younger workers who participated in sports 3 h per week or more had the best performance, but older workers who participated between 0 and 3 h per week had better performance than those who participated in sports more frequently.
Conclusions
There were age-related differences on muscular capacity. Younger workers who participated in sports frequently had the best muscular capacity. For aging workers, moderate sports participation seems to be effective in keeping them suitable for the relatively growing work demands.
doi:10.1007/s00420-009-0407-8
PMCID: PMC2746892  PMID: 19253020
Muscle strength; Muscle endurance; Muscular capacity; Age-related differences; Aging; Workers
18.  Stay@Work: Participatory Ergonomics to prevent low back and neck pain among workers: design of a randomised controlled trial to evaluate the (cost-)effectiveness 
Background
Low back pain (LBP) and neck pain (NP) are a major public health problem with considerable costs for individuals, companies and society. Therefore, prevention is imperative. The Stay@Work study investigates the (cost-)effectiveness of Participatory Ergonomics (PE) to prevent LBP and NP among workers.
Methods
In a randomised controlled trial (RCT), a total of 5,759 workers working at 36 departments of four companies is expected to participate in the study at baseline. The departments consisting of about 150 workers are pre-stratified and randomised. The control departments receive usual practice and the intervention departments receive PE. Within each intervention department a working group is formed including eight workers, a representative of the management, and an occupational health and safety coordinator. During a one day meeting, the working group follows the steps of PE in which the most important risk factors for LBP and NP, and the most adequate ergonomic measures are identified on the basis of group consensus. The implementation of ergonomic measures at the department is performed by the working group. To improve the implementation process, so-called 'ergocoaches' are trained.
The primary outcome measure is an episode of LBP and NP. Secondary outcome measures are actual use of ergonomic measures, physical workload, psychosocial workload, intensity of pain, general health status, sick leave, and work productivity. The cost-effectiveness analysis is performed from the societal and company perspective. Outcome measures are assessed using questionnaires at baseline and after 6 and 12 months. Data on the primary outcome as well as on intensity of pain, sick leave, work productivity, and health care costs are collected every 3 months.
Discussion
Prevention of LBP and NP is beneficial for workers, employers, and society. If the intervention is proven (cost-)effective, the intervention can have a major impact on LBP and NP prevention and, thereby, on work disability prevention. Results are expected in 2010.
Trial registration
ISRCTN27472278
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-9-145
PMCID: PMC2588446  PMID: 18959799
19.  Prospective research on musculoskeletal disorders in office workers (PROMO): study protocol 
Background
This article describes the background and study design of the PROMO study (Prospective Research on Musculoskeletal disorders in Office workers). Few longitudinal studies have been performed to investigate the risk factors responsible for the incidence of hand, arm, shoulder and neck symptoms among office workers, given the observation that a large group of office workers might be at risk worldwide. Therefore, the PROMO study was designed. The main aim is to quantify the contribution of exposure to occupational computer use to the incidence of hand, arm, shoulder and neck symptoms. The results of this study might lead to more effective and/or cost-efficient preventive interventions among office workers.
Methods/Design
A prospective cohort study is conducted, with a follow-up of 24 months. In total, 1821 participants filled out the first questionnaire (response rate of 74%). Data on exposure and outcome is collected using web-based self-reports. Outcome assessment takes place every three months during the follow-up period. Data on computer use are collected at baseline and continuously during follow-up using a software program.
Discussion
The advantages of the PROMO study include the long follow-up period, the repeated measurement of both exposure and outcome, and the objective measurement of the duration of computer use. In the PROMO study, hypotheses stemming from lab-based and field-based research will be investigated.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-7-55
PMCID: PMC1550718  PMID: 16822300
20.  Cost effectiveness of a multi-stage return to work program for workers on sick leave due to low back pain, design of a population based controlled trial [ISRCTN60233560] 
Background
To describe the design of a population based randomized controlled trial (RCT), including a cost-effectiveness analysis, comparing participative ergonomics interventions between 2–8 weeks of sick leave and Graded Activity after 8 weeks of sick leave with usual care, in occupational back pain management.
Methods
Design
An RCT and cost-effectiveness evaluation in employees sick-listed for a period of 2 to 6 weeks due to low back pain. Interventions used are 1. Communication between general practitioner and occupational physician plus Participative Ergonomics protocol performed by an ergonomist. 2. Graded Activity based on cognitive behavioural principles by a physiotherapist. 3. Usual care, provided by an occupational physician according to the Dutch guidelines for the occupational health management of workers with low back pain. The primary outcome measure is return to work. Secondary outcome measures are pain intensity, functional status and general improvement. Intermediate variables are kinesiophobia and pain coping. The cost-effectiveness analysis includes the direct and indirect costs due to low back pain. The outcome measures are assessed before randomization (after 2–6 weeks on sick leave) and 12 weeks, 26 weeks and 52 weeks after first day of sick leave.
Discussion
The combination of these interventions has been subject of earlier research in Canada. The results of the current RCT will: 1. crossvalidate the Canadian findings in an different sociocultural environment; 2. add to the cost-effectiveness on treatment options for workers in the sub acute phase of low back pain. Results might lead to alterations of existing (inter)national guidelines.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-4-26
PMCID: PMC317323  PMID: 14629775
Low back pain; Graded Activity; Participative Ergonomics; Return to work; Randomized Controlled Trial; Cost-effectiveness; Occupational health
21.  The cost of shoulder pain at work  
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2001;322(7278):64-65.
PMCID: PMC1119373  PMID: 11154606
22.  Trial-Based Economic Evaluations in Occupational Health 
To allocate available resources as efficiently as possible, decision makers need information on the relative economic merits of occupational health and safety (OHS) interventions. Economic evaluations can provide this information by comparing the costs and consequences of alternatives. Nevertheless, only a few of the studies that consider the effectiveness of OHS interventions take the extra step of considering their resource implications. Moreover, the methodological quality of those that do is generally poor. Therefore, this study aims to help occupational health researchers conduct high-quality trial-based economic evaluations by discussing the theory and methodology that underlie them, and by providing recommendations for good practice regarding their design, analysis, and reporting. This study also helps consumers of this literature with understanding and critically appraising trial-based economic evaluations of OHS interventions.
doi:10.1097/JOM.0000000000000165
PMCID: PMC4047300  PMID: 24854249

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