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.
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.
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.
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.
Construction industry; Sustainable employability; Intervention study; Empowerment; Physical therapist
Introduction To improve guideline adherence by insurance physicians (IPs), an implementation strategy was developed and investigated in a randomized controlled trial. This implementation strategy involved a multifaceted training programme for a group of IPs in applying the guidelines for depression. In this study we report the impact of the implementation strategy on the physicians’ attitude, intention, self-efficacy, and knowledge and skills as behavioural determinants of guideline adherence. Any links between these self-reported behavioural determinants and levels of guideline adherence were also determined. Methods Just before and 3 months after the implementation of the multifaceted training, a questionnaire designed to measure behavioural determinants on the basis of the ASE (attitude, social norm, self-efficacy) model was completed by the intervention (n = 21) and the control group (n = 19). Items of the questionnaire were grouped to form scales of ASE determinants. Internal consistency of the scales was calculated using Cronbach’s alphas. Differences between groups concerning changes in ASE determinants, and the association of these changes with improvements in guideline adherence, were analyzed using analysis of covariance. Results The internal consistency of the scales of ASE determinants proved to be sufficiently reliable, with Cronbach’s alphas of at least 0.70. At follow-up after 3 months, the IPs given the implementation strategy showed significant improvement over the IPs in the control group for all ASE determinants investigated. Changes in knowledge and skills were only weakly associated with improvements in guideline adherence. Conclusions The implementation strategy developed for insurance physicians can increase their attitude, intention, self-efficacy, and knowledge and skills when applying the guidelines for depression. These changes in behavioural determinants might indicate positive changes in IPs’ behaviour towards the use of the guidelines for depression. However, only changes in knowledge and skills related to the use of the guidelines were associated with improvements in IPs’ actual performance when applying the guidelines.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10926-012-9378-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Guideline adherence; Insurance physicians; Guidelines for depression; ASE determinants
Work disability is a major problem for both the worker and society. To explore the work opportunities in regular jobs of persons low in functional abilities, we tried to identify occupations low in task demands. Because of the variety of functional abilities and of the corresponding work demands, the disabled persons need to be classified by type of disability in a limited number of subgroups. Within each subgroup, occupations judged suitable for the most seriously disabled will be selected as having a very low level of the corresponding task demands. These occupations can be applied as reference occupations to assess the presence or absence of work capacity of sick-listed employees in regular jobs, and as job opportunities for people with a specific type of functional disability.
Registered data from 50,931 disability assessments within the Dutch social security system were used in a second order factor analysis to identify types of disabilities in claimants for a disability pension. Threshold values were chosen to classify claimants according to the severity of the disability. In the disability assessment procedure, a labour expert needs to select jobs with task demands not exceeding the functional abilities of the claimant. For each type of disability, the accessible jobs for the subgroup of the most severely disabled claimants were identified as lowest in the corresponding demand.
The factor analysis resulted in four types of disabilities: general physical ability; autonomy; psychological ability; and manual skills. For each of these types of disablement, a set of four to six occupations low in task demands were selected for the subgroup of most severely disabled claimants. Because of an overlap of the sets of occupations, 13 occupations were selected in total. The percentage of claimants with at least one of the occupations of the corresponding set (the coverage), ranged from 84% to 93%. An alternative selection of six occupations for all subgroups with even less overlap had a coverage ranging from 84% to 89% per subgroup.
This study resulted in two proposals for a set of reference occupations. Further research will be needed to compare the results of the new method of disability assessment to the results of the method presently used in practice.
The aim of this study was to investigate the efficacy of a newly developed implementation strategy for the insurance medicine guidelines for depression in the Netherlands. We hypothesized that an educational intervention would increase the insurance physicians' (IPs) guideline adherence in a controlled setting.
Forty IPs were allocated in a randomised controlled trial (RCT) to an intervention group (IG) (n = 21) and a control group (CG) (n = 19). The IG received tailored training in applying the guidelines for depression, while the CG received an alternative programme. Baseline (T0) and follow-up (T1) measurements were conducted before and after the intervention within a period of two weeks. The intervention consisted of a workshop in which the evidence-based theory of the guidelines was translated for use in practice, with the help of various tools. The IPs had to write a case-report on the basis of video cases, two before and two after the training. Specially trained and blinded test IPs judged the case reports independently on the basis of six performance indicators. Primary outcome measure in the controlled setting of the trial was guideline adherence measured by six performance indicators on a scale of one to seven. Secondary outcome measure was knowledge of the guidelines for depression. Analyses were performed using Linear Mixed Models, and ANCOVA.
We found significantly higher scores in the IG than in the CG at T1 for both outcomes. The interaction effect (standard error; p-value) of group crossed with time was 0.97 (0.19; p < 0.0005) for guideline adherence in the controlled setting. The group effect at T1 for the knowledge test was 0.86 (0.40; p = 0.038).
The newly developed implementation strategy for the insurance medicine guidelines for depression improved the guideline adherence of the trained IPs in disability assessments of clients with depression when performed in a controlled setting. Furthermore, the trained IPs showed gains in knowledge of the guidelines for depression.
Netherlands' Trial Register NTR1863.
The prevalence of overweight and elevated cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk among workers in the construction industry is relatively high. Improving lifestyle lowers CVD risk and may have work-related benefits. The purpose of the study was to evaluate the effects on physical activity (PA), diet, and smoking of a lifestyle intervention consisting of individual counseling among male workers in the construction industry with an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).
In a randomized controlled trial including 816 male blue- and white-collar workers in the construction industry with an elevated risk of CVD, usual care was compared to a 6-month lifestyle intervention. The intervention consisted of individual counseling using motivational interviewing techniques, and was delivered by an occupational physician or occupational nurse. In three face to face and four telephone contacts, the participant's risk profile, personal determinants, and barriers for behavior change were discussed, and personal goals were set. Participants chose to aim at either diet and PA, or smoking. Data were collected at baseline and after six and 12 months, by means of a questionnaire. To analyse the data, linear and logistic regression analyses were performed.
The intervention had a statistically significant beneficial effect on snack intake (β-1.9, 95%CI -3.7; -0.02) and fruit intake (β 1.7, 95%CI 0.6; 2.9) at 6 months. The effect on snack intake was sustained until 12 months; 6 months after the intervention had ended (β -1.9, 95%CI -3.6; -0.2). The intervention effects on leisure time PA and metabolic equivalent-minutes were not statistically significant. The beneficial effect on smoking was statistically significant at 6 (OR smoking 0.3, 95%CI 0.1;0.7), but not at 12 months (OR 0.8, 95%CI 0.4; 1.6).
Beneficial effects on smoking, fruit, and snack intake can be achieved by an individual-based lifestyle intervention among male construction workers with an elevated risk of CVD. Future research should be done on strategies to improve leisure time PA and on determinants of maintenance of changed behavior. Considering the rising prevalence of unhealthy lifestyle and CVD, especially in the aging population, implementation of this intervention in the occupational health care setting is recommended.
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN60545588
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.
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.
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
Work Engagement; Energy balance related behaviours; Physical Activity; Sedentary behaviour; Dietary behaviour; RCT; Mindfulness
The process evaluation of the Vital@Work intervention was primary aimed at gaining insight into the context, dose delivered, fidelity, reach, dose received, and participants' attitude. Further, the differences between intervention locations were evaluated.
Eligible for this study were 730 workers, aged ≥ 45 years, from two academic hospitals. Workers randomised to the intervention group (n = 367) received a 6-months intervention consisting a Vitality Exercise Programme (VEP) combined with three visits to a Personal Vitality Coach (PVC), aimed at goal setting, feedback, and problem solving. The VEP consisted of a guided yoga session, a guided workout session, and aerobic exercising without direct face-to-face instruction, all once a week. Data were collected by means of a questionnaire after the intervention, attendance registration forms (i.e. attendance at guided VEP group sessions), and coaching registration forms (filled in by the PVCs).
The dose delivered of the yoga and workout sessions were 72.3% and 96.3%. All PVC visits (100%) were offered. The reach for the yoga sessions, workout sessions and PVC visits was 70.6%, 63.8%, and 89.6%, respectively. When taken these three intervention components together, the reach was 52%. This differed between the two locations (59.2% versus 36.8%). The dose received was for the yoga 10.4 sessions/24 weeks and for the workout 11.1 sessions/24 weeks. The attendance rate, defined as the mean percentage of attended group sessions in relation to the total provided group sessions, for the yoga and workout sessions was 51.7% and 44.8%, respectively. For the yoga sessions this rate was different between the two locations (63.2% versus 46.5%). No differences were found between the locations regarding the workout sessions and PVC visits. Workers attended on average 2.7 PVC visits. Overall, workers were satisfied with the intervention components: 7.5 for yoga sessions, 7.8 for workout sessions, and 6.9 for PVC visits.
The implementation of the intervention was accomplished as planned with respect to the dose delivered. Based on the reach, most workers were willing to attend the guided group sessions and the PVC visits, although there were differences between the locations and between intervention components. Overall, workers were positive about the intervention.
Trial registration NTR1240
process evaluation; ageing workers; vitality; lifestyle intervention
Introduction Beside (cost-)effectiveness, the feasibility of an intervention is important for successful implementation in daily practice. This study concerns the process evaluation of a newly developed participatory return-to-work (RTW) program for workers without an employment contract, sick-listed due to musculoskeletal disorders. The program consisted of a stepwise process, guided by an independent RTW coordinator, aimed at making a consensus-based RTW plan with the possibility of a temporary (therapeutic) workplace. The aims of this study were to describe the reach and extent of implementation of the new program, the satisfaction and experiences of all stakeholders, and the perceived barriers and facilitators for implementation of the program in daily practice. Methods Temporary agency workers and unemployed workers, sick-listed for 2–8 weeks due to musculoskeletal disorders were eligible for this study. Data were collected from the workers; their insurance physicians and labour experts at the Dutch Social Security Agency; RTW coordinators; and case managers from participating vocational rehabilitation agencies. Data collection took place using professionals’ reports, standardized matrices, questionnaires at baseline and at 3-month follow-up, and group interviews with the professionals. Results Of the 79 workers who were allocated to the participatory RTW program group, 72 workers actually started with the intervention. Overall, implementation of the program was performed according to protocol. However, offering of suitable temporary workplaces was delayed with 44.5 days. Results showed satisfaction with the RTW coordinator among the workers and three quarters of the labour experts experienced a minor or major contribution of the presence of the RTW coordinator. Several barriers for implementation were identified, such as the administrative time-investment, unclear information about the program, no timely offering of temporary (therapeutic) workplaces, and the need for additional support in case of complex health problems. Conclusions This study indicates overall feasibility for implementation of the participatory RTW program in daily practice. However, to overcome important barriers, more attention should be paid to improve timely offering of suitable temporary workplaces, to describe more clearly the program goals and the professional’s roles, and to offer additional support for workers suffering from complex multi-causal health problems. Trial registration NTR1047.
Feasibility; Implementation; Return to work; Occupational health care; Vocational rehabilitation; Worker without employment contract
Physicians require specific communication skills, because the face-to-face contact with their patients is an important source of information. Although physicians who perform work disability assessments attend some communication-related training courses during their professional education, no specialised and evidence-based communication skills training course is available for them. Therefore, the objectives of this study were: 1) to systematically develop a training course aimed at improving the communication skills of physicians during work disability assessment interviews with disability claimants, and 2) to plan an evaluation of the training course.
A physician-tailored communication skills training course was developed, according to the six steps of the Intervention Mapping protocol. Data were collected from questionnaire studies among physicians and claimants, a focus group study among physicians, a systematic review of the literature, and meetings with various experts. Determinants and performance objectives were formulated. A concept version of the training course was discussed with several experts before the final training course programme was established. The evaluation plan was developed by consulting experts, social insurance physicians, researchers, and policy-makers, and discussing with them the options for evaluation.
A two-day post-graduate communication skills training course was developed, aimed at improving professional communication during work disability assessment interviews. Special focus was on active teaching strategies, such as practising the skills in role-play. An adoption and implementation plan was formulated, in which the infrastructure of the educational department of the institute that employs the physicians was utilised. Improvement in the skills and knowledge of the physicians who will participate in the training course will be evaluated in a randomised controlled trial.
The feasibility and practical relevance of the communication skills training course that was developed seem promising. Such a course may be relevant for physicians in many countries who perform work disability assessments. The development of the first training course of this type represents an important advancement in this field.
The objective of this process evaluation study was to gain insight into the reach, compliance, appreciation, usage barriers, and users' perceived effectiveness of a web-based intervention http://www.wiagesprek.nl. This intervention was aimed at empowerment of disability claimants, prior to the assessment of disability by an insurance physician.
Reach was determined by registering claimants exposed to the study's invitation brochures, and by comparing trial participant characteristics with non-participants and nationwide claimant data. Compliance was registered by analyzing weblogs, which were automatically collected during the period of the trial. This made it possible to analyze individual use of the intervention. Appreciation, usage barriers, and users' perceived effectiveness were assessed using an online questionnaire that was sent to participants from the intervention group, 6 weeks after enrolment.
Only 9% of the target population enrolled in the internet program. Because of selective enrolment, more females, higher educated claimants, and less ethnical minorities were reached. Compliance was ambiguous: out of the 123 participants randomized into the intervention group, a significant proportion (33%) did not use the intervention at all, while, at the same time, many participants (32%) used the intervention for more than two hours (i.e. in approximately two weeks). Overall satisfaction with the intervention was good. Claimants perceived the intervention most effective in increasing knowledge, while also a fair amount of users perceived the intervention effective in gaining right expectations or being able to communicate better with their physician.
The uptake of the intervention http://www.wiagesprek.nl was disappointing. Specifically, the poor reach and compliance of the intervention resulted in a small proportion of the target population using the intervention as intended. Improvements in the implementation process are desirable to increase the reach and compliance and, thereby possibly, the impact of the intervention.
The health problems that working people suffer can affect their functional abilities and, consequently, can cause a mismatch between those abilities and the demands of the work, leading to sickness absence. A lasting decrease in functional abilities can lead to long-term sickness absence and work disability, with negative consequences for both the worker and the larger society. The objective of this study was to identify common disability characteristics among large groups of long-term sick-listed and disabled employees.
As part of the disability benefit entitlement procedure in the Netherlands, an insurance physician assesses the functional abilities of the claimant in a standardised form, known as the List of Functional Abilities (LFA), which consists of six sections containing a total of 106 items. For the purposes of this study, we compiled data from 50,931 assessments. These data were used in an exploratory factor analyses, and the results were then used to construct scales. The stability of dimensional structure of the LFA and of the internal consistency of the scales was studied using data from 80,968 assessments carried out earlier, under a slightly different legislation.
Three separate factor analyses carried out on the functional abilities of five sections of the LFA resulted in 14 scale variables, and one extra scale variable was based on the items from the sixth section. The resulting scale variables showed Cronbach's Alphas ranging from 0.59 to 0.97, with the exception of one of 0.54. The dimensional structure of the LFA in the verification population differed in some aspects. The Cronbach's Alphas of the verification population ranged from 0.58 to 0.97, again with the exception of the same scale: Alpha = 0.49.
The differences between the dimensional structures of the primary data and the earlier data we found in this study restrict the possibilities to generalise the results. The scales we constructed can be utilised to produce a compact description of the functional abilities of groups of claimants in the Netherlands. Moreover, the matching work demands can be used to identify jobs low on those demands as being the most accessible for the specific type of disabled employees, particularly severely disabled individuals.
Introduction The aim of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of an interactive website aimed at empowerment of disability claimants, prior to the assessment of disability by an insurance physician. Methods A randomized controlled trial was conducted. Claimants applying for a work disability pension after being sick-listed for 104 weeks, were randomized into either an intervention group or control group. Participants who were randomized into the intervention group were able to logon to the website www.wiagesprek.nl, which mainly consisted of five interactive modules aimed at increasing knowledge, self-awareness, expectations, self-efficacy, and active participation. Participants from the control group were directed to a ‘sham’ website with commonly available information only. The primary outcome was empowerment. Secondary outcomes included coping, knowledge, claimant satisfaction, perceived justice, and physician satisfaction. Outcomes were assessed at baseline, 2 days before the disability assessment, as well as 1 day after, 6 weeks, and 4 months after the disability assessment. Results Claimants were randomly assigned to the intervention group (n = 123) or a control group (n = 119). The intervention had no significant short- and long-term effects on empowerment, but the intervention increased claimants’ knowledge significantly compared to the control group. Claimant satisfaction with the disability assessment interview and claimant perceived justice on the outcome of the assessment were lower in the intervention group (statistically not significant). Furthermore, the intervention had a significant negative effect on claimants perceived procedural justice. Conclusion Although knowledge increased significantly, the intervention www.wiagesprek.nl was not successful in reaching its primary target, that is, to increase levels of empowerment among disability claimants, prior to the assessment of disability.
Empowerment; Physician-patient relationship; Internet; Disability assessments; Medical disability claimants
This article describes the development of a strategy to implement the insurance medicine guidelines for depression. Use of the guidelines is intended to result in more transparent and uniform assessment of claimants with depressive symptoms.
The implementation strategy was developed using the Intervention Mapping (IM) method for alignment with insurance-medical practice. The ASE behavioural explanation model (Attitude, Social Influence and Self-Efficacy) was used as theoretical basis for the development work. A literature study of implementation strategies and interviews with insurance physicians were performed to develop instruments for use with the guideline. These instruments were designed to match the needs and the working circumstances of insurance physicians. Performance indicators to measure the quality of the assessment and the adherence to the guidelines were defined with input from insurance physicians.
This study resulted in the development of a training course to teach insurance physicians how to apply the guidelines for depression, using the aforementioned instruments. The efficacy of this training course will be evaluated in a Randomized Controlled Trial.
The use of IM made it possible to develop guideline support instruments tailored to insurance medical practice.
Introduction: To improve work participation in individuals with a chronic illness, insight into the role of work-related factors in the association between health and sick leave is needed. The aim of this study was to gain insight into the contribution of work limitations, work characteristics, and work adjustments to the association between health and sick leave in employees with a chronic illness. Methods: All employees with a chronic illness, between 15 and 65 years of age (n = 7,748) were selected from The Netherlands Working Conditions Survey. The survey included questions about perceived health, working conditions, and sick leave. Block-wise multivariate linear regression analyses were performed and, in different blocks, limitations at work, work characteristics, and work adjustments were added to the model of perceived health status. Changes in regression coefficient (B) (%) were calculated for the total group and for sub-groups per chronic illness. Results: When work limitations were added to the model, the B between health and sick leave decreased by 18% (5.0 to 4.1). Adding work characteristics did not decrease the association between health and sick leave, but the B between work limitations and sick leave decreased by 14%, (5.3 to 4.5). When work adjustments were added to the model, the Bs between sick leave and work limitations and work characteristics changed from 4.5 to 3.4 for work limitations and from 2.1 to 1.9 for temporary contract and from −0.8 to −1.0 for supervisor support. Conclusions: The association between health and sick leave was explained by limitations at work, work characteristics, and work adjustments. Paying more attention to work limitations, characteristics and adjustments offers opportunities to reduce the negative consequences of chronic illness.
Chronic disease; Work; Sick leave; Health; Confounding factors
The effect of physical activity on neck and low back pain is still controversial. No systematic review has been conducted on the association between daily physical activity and neck and low back pain. The objective of this study was to evaluate the association between physical activity and the incidence/prevalence of neck and low back pain. Publications were systematically searched from 1980 to June 2009 in several databases. The following key words were used: neck pain, back pain, physical activity, leisure time activity, daily activity, everyday activity, lifestyle activity, sedentary, and physical inactivity. A hand search of relevant journals was also carried out. Relevant studies were retrieved and assessed for methodological quality by two independent reviewers. The strength of the evidence was based on methodological quality and consistency of the results. Seventeen studies were included in this review, of which 13 were rated as high-quality studies. Of high-quality studies, there was limited evidence for no association between physical activity and neck pain in workers and strong evidence for no association in school children. Conflicting evidence was found for the association between physical activity and low back pain in both general population and school children. Literature with respect to the effect of physical activity on neck and low back pain was too heterogeneous and more research is needed before any final conclusion can be reached.
Spinal pain; Daily activity; Lifestyle; Systematic review
The costs of arm, shoulder and neck symptoms are high. In order to decrease these costs employers implement interventions aimed at reducing these symptoms. One frequently used intervention is the RSI QuickScan intervention programme. It establishes a risk profile of the target population and subsequently advises interventions following a decision tree based on that risk profile. The purpose of this study was to perform an economic evaluation, from both the societal and companies' perspective, of the RSI QuickScan intervention programme for computer workers. In this study, effectiveness was defined at three levels: exposure to risk factors, prevalence of arm, shoulder and neck symptoms, and days of sick leave.
The economic evaluation was conducted alongside a randomised controlled trial (RCT). Participating computer workers from 7 companies (N = 638) were assigned to either the intervention group (N = 320) or the usual care group (N = 318) by means of cluster randomisation (N = 50). The intervention consisted of a tailor-made programme, based on a previously established risk profile. At baseline, 6 and 12 month follow-up, the participants completed the RSI QuickScan questionnaire. Analyses to estimate the effect of the intervention were done according to the intention-to-treat principle. To compare costs between groups, confidence intervals for cost differences were computed by bias-corrected and accelerated bootstrapping.
The mean intervention costs, paid by the employer, were 59 euro per participant in the intervention and 28 euro in the usual care group. Mean total health care and non-health care costs per participant were 108 euro in both groups. As to the cost-effectiveness, improvement in received information on healthy computer use as well as in their work posture and movement was observed at higher costs. With regard to the other risk factors, symptoms and sick leave, only small and non-significant effects were found.
In this study, the RSI QuickScan intervention programme did not prove to be cost-effective from the both the societal and companies' perspective and, therefore, this study does not provide a financial reason for implementing this intervention. However, with a relatively small investment, the programme did increase the number of workers who received information on healthy computer use and improved their work posture and movement.
Trial registration number: NTR1117
To prevent early exit from work, it is important to study which factors contribute to healthy ageing. One concept that is assumed to be closely related to, and therefore may influence healthy ageing, is vitality. Vitality consists of both a mental and a physical component, and is characterised by a perceived high energy level, decreased feelings of fatigue, and feeling fit. Since VO2max gives an indication of one's aerobic fitness, which can be improved by increased levels of physical activity, and because feeling fit is one of the main characteristics of vitality, it is hypothesised that VO2max is related to vitality. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate the associations between VO2max and vitality.
In 427 older workers (aged 45 + years) participating in the Vital@Work study, VO2max was estimated at baseline using the 2-km UKK walk test. Vitality was measured by both the UWES Vitality Scale and the RAND-36 Vitality Scale. Associations were analysed using linear regression analyses.
The linear regression models, adjusted for age, showed a significant association between VO2max and vitality measured with the RAND-36 Vitality Scale (β = 0.446; 95% CI: 0.220-0.673). There was no significant association between VO2max and vitality measured with the UWES (β = -0.006; 95% CI:-0.017 - 0.006), after adjusting for age, gender and chronic disease status.
VO2max was associated with a general measure of vitality (measured with the RAND-36 Vitality Scale), but not with occupational health related vitality (measured with the UWES Vitality Scale). The idea that physical exercise can be used as an effective tool for improving vitality was supported in this study.
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.
Computers; neck; upper extremity; longitudinal studies; epidemiology; ergonomics; musculoskeletal; longitudinal studies; video-display units
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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).
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).
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.
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN27472278
Objectives: To investigate the methods used to estimate the indirect costs of health-related productivity in economic evaluations from a company’s perspective. Methods: The primary literature search was conducted in Medline and Embase. Supplemental searches were conducted in the Cochrane NHS Economic Evaluation Database, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health database, the Ryerson International Labour, Occupational Safety and Health Index database, scans of reference lists and researcher’s own literature database. Article selection was conducted independently by two researchers based on title, keywords, and abstract, and if needed, full text. Differences were resolved by a consensus procedure. Articles were selected based on seven criteria addressing study population, type of intervention, comparative intervention, outcome, costs, language and perspective, respectively. Characteristics of the measurement and valuation of health-related productivity were extracted and analyzed descriptively. Results: A total of 34 studies were included. Costs of health-related productivity were estimated using (a combination of) data related to sick leave, compensated sick leave, light or modified duty or work presenteeism. Data were collected from different sources (e.g. administrative databases, worker self-report, supervisors) and by different methods (e.g. questionnaires, interviews). Valuation varied in terms of reported time units, composition and source of the corresponding price weights, and whether additional elements, such as replacement costs, were included. Conclusions: Methods for measuring and valuing health-related productivity vary widely, hindering comparability of results and decision-making. We provide suggestions for improvement.
Systematic review; Work; Methodology; Measurement; Valuation; Company
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.
Netherlands National Trial Register NTR1117
Within the working population there is a vulnerable group: workers without an employment contract and workers with a flexible labour market arrangement, e.g. temporary agency workers. In most cases, when sick-listed, these workers have no workplace/employer to return to. Also, for these workers access to occupational health care is limited or even absent in many countries. For this vulnerable working population there is a need for tailor-made occupational health care, including the presence of an actual return-to-work perspective. Therefore, a participatory return-to-work program has been developed based on a successful return-to-work intervention for workers, sick-listed due to low back pain.
The objective of this paper is to describe the design of a randomised controlled trial to study the (cost-)effectiveness of this newly developed participatory return-to-work program adapted for temporary agency workers and unemployed workers, sick-listed due to musculoskeletal disorders, compared to usual care.
The design of this study is a randomised controlled trial with one year of follow-up. The study population consists of temporary agency workers and unemployed workers sick-listed between 2 and 8 weeks due to musculoskeletal disorders. The new return-to-work program is a stepwise program aimed at making a consensus-based return-to-work implementation plan with the possibility of a (therapeutic) workplace to return-to-work. Outcomes are measured at baseline, 3, 6, 9 and 12 months. The primary outcome measure is duration of the sickness benefit period after the first day of reporting sick. Secondary outcome measures are: time until first return-to-work, total number of days of sickness benefit during follow-up; functional status; intensity of musculoskeletal pain; pain coping; and attitude, social influence and self-efficacy determinants. Cost-benefit is evaluated from an insurer's perspective. A process evaluation is part of this study.
For sick-listed workers without an employment contract there can be gained a lot by improving occupational health care, including return-to-work guidance, and by minimising the 'labour market handicap' by creating a return-to-work perspective. In addition, reduction of sickness absence and work disability, i.e. a reduction of disability claims, may result in substantial benefits for the Dutch Social Security System.
Trial registration number: NTR1047.
Non-response and drop-out are problems that are commonly encountered in health promotion trials. Understanding the health-related characteristics of non-participants and drop-outs and the reasons for non-participation and drop-out may be beneficial for future intervention trials.
Male construction workers with an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) were invited to participate in a lifestyle intervention study. In order to investigate the associations between participation and CVD risk factors, and drop-out and CVD risk factors, crude and multiple logistic regression analyses were performed. The reasons for non-participation and drop-out were assessed qualitatively.
20% of the workers who were invited decided to participate; 8.6% of the participants dropped out before the first follow-up measurement. The main reasons for non-participation were 'no interest', 'current (para-)medical treatment', and 'feeling healthy', and for drop-out they were 'lack of motivation', 'current (para-)medical treatment', and 'disappointment'. Participants were 4.2 years older, had a higher blood pressure, higher total cholesterol, and lower HDL cholesterol than non-participants, and were more likely to report 'tiredness and/or stress' and 'chest pain and/or shortness of breath'. After adjusting for age, most risk factors were not significantly associated with participation. Drop-outs were 4.6 years younger than those who completed the study. The prevalence of smoking was higher among non-participants and drop-outs.
Participants had a worse CVD risk profile than non-participants, mainly because of the difference in age. Non-participants and drop-outs were younger and more likely to be smokers. The main reasons for non-participation and drop-out were health-related. Investigators in the field of health promotion should be encouraged to share comparable information.
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN60545588
A major contributor of early exit from work is a decline in health with increasing age. As healthy lifestyle choices contribute to better health outcomes, an intervention aimed at an improved lifestyle is considered a potentially effective tool to keep older workers healthy and vital, and thereby to prolong labour participation.
Using the Intervention Mapping (IM) protocol, a lifestyle intervention was developed based on information obtained from 1) literature, 2) a short lifestyle questionnaire aimed at indentifying the lifestyle behaviours among the target group, and 3) focusgroup (FG) interviews among 36 older workers (aged 45+ years) aimed at identifying: a) key determinants of lifestyle behaviour, b) a definition of vitality, and c) ideas about how vitality can be improved by lifestyle.
The main lifestyle problems identified were: insufficient levels of physical activity and insufficient intake of fruit and vegetables. Using information from both literature and FG interviews, vitality consists of a mental and a physical component. The interviewees suggested to improve the mental component of vitality by means of relaxation exercises (e.g. yoga); physical vitality could be improved by aerobic endurance exercise and strength training.
The lifestyle intervention (6 months) consists of three visits to a Personal Vitality Coach (PVC) combined with a Vitality Exercise Programme (VEP). The VEP consists of: 1) once a week a guided yoga group session aimed at relaxation exercises, 2) once a week a guided aerobic workout group session aimed at improving aerobic fitness and increasing muscle strength, and 3) older workers will be asked to perform once a week for at least 45 minutes vigorous physical activity without face-to-face instructions (e.g. fitness). Moreover, free fruit will be offered at the group sessions of the VEP. The lifestyle intervention will be evaluated in a RCT among older workers of two major academic hospitals in the Netherlands. At baseline, after 6 and 12 months, measurements (primary: lifestyle and vitality, and secondary: work-engagement and productivity) will take place.
The lifestyle programme is developed specifically tailored to the needs of the older workers and which is aimed at improving their vitality.