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Effect of Office Ergonomics Intervention on Reducing Musculoskeletal Symptoms

Amick, Benjamin C. III,, PhD*†‡; Robertson, Michelle M., PhD,CPE§; DeRango, Kelly, PhD; Bazzani, Lianna, MPH**; Moore, Anne, PhD††; Rooney, Ted, MPH**; Harrist, Ron, PhD*

doi: 10.1097/01.BRS.0000099740.87791.F7
Occupational Health/Ergonomics

Study Design. Office workers invited and agreeing to participate were assigned to one of three study groups: a group receiving a highly adjustable chair with office ergonomics training, a training-only group, and a control group receiving the training at the end of the study.

Objective. To examine the effect of office ergonomics intervention in reducing musculoskeletal symptom growth over the workday and, secondarily, pain levels throughout the day.

Materials and Methods. Data collection occurred 2 months and 1 month before the intervention and 2, 6, and 12 months postintervention. During each round, a short daily symptom survey was completed at the beginning, middle, and end of the workday for 5 days during a workweek to measure total bodily pain growth over the workday. Multilevel statistical models were used to test hypotheses.

Results. The chair-with-training intervention lowered symptom growth over the workday (P = 0.012) after 12 months of follow-up. No evidence suggested that training alone lowered symptom growth over the workday (P = 0.461); however, average pain levels in both intervention groups were reduced over the workday.

Conclusion. Workers who received a highly adjustable chair and office ergonomics training had reduced symptom growth over the workday. The lack of a training-only group effect supports implementing training in conjunction with highly adjustable office furniture and equipment to reduce symptom growth. The ability to reduce symptom growth has implications for understanding how to prevent musculoskeletal injuries in knowledge workers.

The impact of an office ergonomics intervention (highly adjustable chair and office ergonomics training) on musculoskeletal symptom growth was examined at 2, 6 and 12 months of follow-up within a quasi-experimental design. The chair-withtraining group had a lower musculoskeletal symptom growth rate compared to a control group or a training-only group.

*The University of Texas School of Public Health, Houston, TX;

†The Institute for Work and Health, Toronto, Canada;

‡The Texas Program for Society and Health, James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy, Rice University, Houston, TX;

§Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety, Hopkinton, MA;

¶The Upjohn Research Institute, Kalamazoo, MI;

**Health and Work Outcomes, Brunswick, ME;

and ††York University, Toronto, Canada

The manuscript submitted does not contain information about medical device(s)/drug(s).

Corporate/Industry funds were received in support of this work. One or more of the author(s) has/have received or will receive benefits for personal or professional use from a commercial party related directly or indirectly to the subject of this manuscript:e.g., honoraria, gifts, consultancies.

Acknowledgment date: February 28, 2003.

Acceptance date: June 5, 2003.

This research was funded by grants from Steelcase, Inc. to the University of Texas, The Upjohn Research Institute, York University and Health and Work Outcomes and through the support of the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety. Noe Palacios and Paul Allie of Steelcase, Inc. contributed to data collection. Arden Brink of Health and Work Outcomes designed the web-based data collection system.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Benjamin C. Amick III, PhD, The University of Texas Health Science Center–Houston, School of Public Health, 1200 Herman Pressler, Houston, TX 77030. E-mail:

© 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.