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The Healthy LifeWorks Project: The Effect of a Comprehensive Workplace Wellness Program on the Prevalence and Severity of Musculoskeletal Disorders in a Canadian Government Department

Curwin, Sandra PhD; Allt, Jane MPA; Szpilfogel, Claudine MSc; Makrides, Lydia PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: June 2013 - Volume 55 - Issue 6 - p 628–633
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31829889c1
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Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of a comprehensive workplace wellness program on the prevalence and severity of musculoskeletal disorders in a Canadian government department.

Methods: The Healthy LifeWorks program was developed, implemented, and evaluated over a 4-year period. A total of 233 employees completed the Nordic Musculoskeletal Questionnaire before and after the program to determine the prevalence and severity of musculoskeletal disorders.

Results: There was an approximately 10% decrease in the 12-month prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders, ranging from 4% for hip/thigh problems to 12% for lower and upper back problems. The proportion of people reporting that a musculoskeletal disorder interfered with their normal work during the past 12 months decreased from 83% to 46%.

Conclusions: Comprehensive wellness, including educational sessions on posture, ergonomics, and joint health, results in improved musculoskeletal health.

From Creative Wellness Solutions Inc and School of Physiotherapy (Dr Curwin), Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada; Strategic Support Services (Ms Allt), Halifax, Nova Scotia Public Service Commission, Canada; Research Power Inc (Ms Szpilfogel), Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada; and Creative Wellness Solutions Inc (Dr Makrides), Tantallon, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Address correspondence to: Lydia Makrides, PhD, Creative Wellness Solutions Inc, P.O. Box 3061, Tantallon, Nova Scotia B3Z 4G9, Canada (

Sponsors (the Nova Scotia Public Service Commission, Pfizer Canada Inc, AstraZeneca Canada Inc, and SunLife Financial) provided funding for this study.

©2013The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine