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