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“It's not an Obvious Issue, Is It?” Office-Based Employees’ Perceptions of Prolonged Sitting at Work: A Qualitative Study

Flint, Stuart William PhD; Crank, Helen PhD; Tew, Garry PhD; Till, Simon MD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: December 2017 - Volume 59 - Issue 12 - p 1161–1165
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001130
Original Articles

Objective: Current UK workplace health promotion guidance recommends that employers minimize sedentary behaviors, but understanding the issues relating to prolonged workplace sitting has received little empirical attention. This study aimed to explore employees’ perceptions of sitting time.

Methods: Participants at a small to medium-sized UK company were invited to join one of five focus groups. A framework analysis approach was used.

Results: Self-reported mean estimate of occupational sitting time was 6.4 hours/day with a mean estimate of leisure time sitting 6.5 hours/nonwork days. The study highlighted employees’ lack of appreciation of the health risks associated with sedentary behavior.

Conclusion: This study has highlighted that in addition to personal determinants, the workplace environment and organizational culture have a key role in supporting employees’ potential adoption of healthier sitting behavior in the workplace.

School of Sport, Headingley Campus, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, UK (Dr Flint); Centre for Sport and Exercise Science, Collegiate Crescent Campus, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK (Drs Crank, Till); Department of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK (Dr Tew); Centre for Workplace Health, Health & Safety Laboratory, Buxton, UK (Dr Till); and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Sheffield, UK (Dr Till).

Address correspondence to: Dr Stuart William Flint, PhD, 230 Fairfax Hall, Headingley Campus, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds LS6 3QS, UK (

£5k was received from the Centre of Sport and Exercise at Sheffield Hallam University to support the project.

Ethical approval was obtained from Sheffield Hallam University Research Ethics Committee.

SF and GT were involved in conception and design of the study. SF conducted the literature review. SF, GT, and ST were involved in the data collection. SF, HC, GT, and ST were in the analysis and interpretation of data. SF and HC drafted the manuscript. SF, HC, GT, and ST were involved in revising the manuscript and finalizing the content of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

The authors have no conflicting interests.

Copyright © 2017 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine