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1.  Evaluation of pain and function after two home exercise programs in a clinical trial on women with chronic neck pain - with special emphasises on completers and responders 
Background
Different types of exercises can help manage chronic neck pain. Supervised exercise interventions are widely used, but these protocols require substantial resources. The aim of this trial, which focused on adherence, was to evaluate two home exercise interventions.
Methods
This parallel group randomized controlled trial included 57 women randomly allocated into two groups – a strength training group (STRENGTH, 34 subjects) and a stretching group (STRETCH, 23 subjects). The interventions focused on the neck and shoulder muscles and lasted for 12 months. The STRENGTH group performed weight training and ended each session with stretching exercises. These stretching exercises constituted the entirety of the STRETCH group’s training session. Both groups were instructed to exercise three times per week. All the participants kept an exercise diary. In addition, all participants were offered support via phone and e-mail. The primary outcomes were pain intensity and function. The trial included a four- to six-month and a twelve-month follow-up. A completer in this study exercised at least 1,5 times per week during eight unbroken weeks. A responder in this study reported clinically significant improvements on pain and function. The statistical analyses used the Mann Whitney U-test, Wilcoxon signed-rank test, and X 2 test.
Results
At four- to six-months, the numbers of completers were 19 in the STRENGTH group and 17 in the STRETCH group. At twelve months, the corresponding numbers were 11 (STRENGTH) and 10 (STRETCH). At four- to six-months, the proportions of subjects reporting clinically important changes (STRENGTH and STRETCH) were for neck pain: 47% and 41%, shoulder pain: 47% and 47%, function: 37% and 29%. At twelve months, the corresponding numbers were for neck pain: 45% and 40%, shoulder pain: 55% and 50%, function: 55% and 20%.
Conclusions
No differences in the two primary outcomes between the two interventions were found, a finding that may be due to the insufficient statistical power of the study. Both interventions based on home exercises improved the two primary outcomes, but the adherences were relatively low. Future studies should investigate ways to improve adherence to home exercise treatments.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov Id: NCT01876680
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-15-6
PMCID: PMC3893583  PMID: 24400934
Neck pain; Shoulder pain; Home exercise; Strength training; Stretching; Function
2.  Effectiveness of early part-time sick leave in musculoskeletal disorders 
Background
The importance of staying active instead of bed rest has been acknowledged in the management of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). This emphasizes the potential benefits of adjusting work to fit the employee's remaining work ability. Despite part-time sick leave being an official option in many countries, its effectiveness has not been studied yet. We have designed a randomized controlled study to assess the health effects of early part-time sick leave compared to conventional full-day sick leave. Our hypothesis is that if work time is temporarily reduced and work load adjusted at the early stages of disability, employees with MSDs will have less disability days and faster return to regular work duties than employees on a conventional sick leave.
Methods/Design
The study population will consist of 600 employees, who seek medical advice from an occupational physician due to musculoskeletal pain. The inclusion requires that they have not been on a sick leave for longer than 14 days prior to the visit. Based on the physician's judgement, the severity of the symptoms must indicate a need for conventional sick leave, but the employee is considered to be able to work part-time without any additional risk. Half of the employees are randomly allocated to part-time sick leave group and their work time is reduced by 40–60%, whereas in the control group work load is totally eliminated with conventional sick leave. The main outcomes are the number of days from the initial visit to return to regular work activities, and the total number of sick leave days during 12 and 24 months of follow-up. The costs and benefits as well as the feasibility of early part-time sick leave will also be evaluated.
Conclusion
This is the first randomised trial to our knowledge on the effectiveness of early part-time sick leave compared to conventional full-time sick leave in the management of MSDs. The data collection continues until 2011, but preliminary results on the feasibility of part-time sick leave will be available already in 2008. The increased knowledge will assist in better decision making process regarding the management of disability related to MSDs.
Trial Registration
International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial Number Register, register number ISRCTN30911719
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-9-23
PMCID: PMC2267790  PMID: 18294405
3.  Effect of training and lifting equipment for preventing back pain in lifting and handling: systematic review 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2008;336(7641):429-431.
Objectives To determine whether advice and training on working techniques and lifting equipment prevent back pain in jobs that involve heavy lifting.
Data sources Medline, Embase, CENTRAL, Cochrane Back Group’s specialised register, CINAHL, Nioshtic, CISdoc, Science Citation Index, and PsychLIT were searched up to September-November 2005.
Review methods The primary search focused on randomised controlled trials and the secondary search on cohort studies with a concurrent control group. Interventions aimed to modify techniques for lifting and handling heavy objects or patients and including measurements for back pain, consequent disability, or sick leave as the main outcome were considered for the review. Two authors independently assessed eligibility of the studies and methodological quality of those included. For data synthesis, we summarised the results of studies comparing similar interventions. We used odds ratios and effect sizes to combine the results in a meta-analysis. Finally, we compared the conclusions of the primary and secondary analyses.
Results Six randomised trials and five cohort studies met the inclusion criteria. Two randomised trials and all cohort studies were labelled as high quality. Eight studies looked at lifting and moving patients, and three studies were conducted among baggage handlers or postal workers. Those in control groups received no intervention or minimal training, physical exercise, or use of back belts. None of the comparisons in randomised trials (17 720 participants) yielded significant differences. In the secondary analysis, none of the cohort studies (772 participants) had significant results, which supports the results of the randomised trials.
Conclusions There is no evidence to support use of advice or training in working techniques with or without lifting equipment for preventing back pain or consequent disability. The findings challenge current widespread practice of advising workers on correct lifting technique.
doi:10.1136/bmj.39463.418380.BE
PMCID: PMC2249682  PMID: 18244957

Results 1-3 (3)