This study assessed the effectiveness of a single intervention targeting work style and a combined intervention targeting work style and physical activity on the recovery from neck and upper limb symptoms. Computer workers with frequent or long-term neck and upper limb symptoms were randomised into the work style group (WS, n = 152), work style and physical activity group (WSPA, n = 156), or usual care group (n = 158). The WS and WSPA group attended six group meetings. All meetings focused on behavioural change with regard to body posture, workplace adjustment, breaks and coping with high work demands (WS and WSPA group) and physical activity (WSPA group). Pain, disability at work, days with symptoms and months without symptoms were measured at baseline and after 6 (T1) and 12 months (T2). Self-reported recovery was assessed at T1/T2. Both interventions were ineffective in improving recovery. The work style intervention but not the combined intervention was effective in reducing all pain measures. These effects were present in the neck/shoulder, not in the arm/wrist/hand. For the neck/shoulder, the work style intervention group also showed an increased recovery-rate. Total physical activity increased in all study groups but no differences between groups were observed. To conclude, a group-based work style intervention focused on behavioural change was effective in improving recovery from neck/shoulder symptoms and reducing pain on the long-term. The combined intervention was ineffective in increasing total physical activity. Therefore we cannot draw conclusions on the effect of increasing physical activity on the recovery from neck and upper limb symptoms.
aInstitute for Research in Extramural Medicine, Department of Occupational and Public Health, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
bTNO Quality of Life, Leiden, The Netherlands
cMunicipal Health Service The Hague, The Netherlands
dDepartment of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, VU University Medical Center, The Netherlands
eBody@Work Research Center Physical Activity, Work and Health, TNO-VUmc, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
*Corresponding author. Address: TNO Quality of Life, P.O. Box 2215, 2301 CE, Leiden, The Netherlands. Tel.: +31 71 5181287; fax: +31 71 5181903.
Submitted November 29, 2006; received in revised form April 25, 2007; accepted June 5, 2007.