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Incidence of self-reported reduced productivity owing to musculoskeletal symptoms: association with workplace and individual factors among computer users

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The aim of the present study was to assess the incidence and identify possible risk factors for self-reported reduced productivity owing to musculoskeletal symptoms among computer users. Design: a cohort study with a baseline questionnaire and monthly follow ups during 10 months. Methods: the study base consisted of 1283 computer users, 636 men and 896 women. Ergonomists observed workstation characteristics before entering the cohort. Cases were defined as subjects reporting reduced productivity or reporting being on sick leave owing to musculoskeletal symptoms. Results: women had approximately two times the incidence of self-reported reduced productivity owing to symptoms in the neck, shoulder and in the forearm/hand than men. There was no difference in gender for the incidence of self-reported reduced productivity owing to back symptoms. Working overtime and job demands were risk factors for self-reported reduced productivity owing to neck and back symptoms. Physical exercise fewer than 8 times the last month was a risk factor for self-reported reduced productivity owing to neck, shoulder and forearm/hand symptoms. Computer mouse use for more than 0.5 h/day was a risk factor for self-reported reduced productivity owing to shoulder and forearm/hand symptoms. Conclusions: risk factors for self-reported reduced productivity owing to musculoskeletal symptoms included life style factors, such as overweight and low physical exercise, occupational factors, such as overtime, job demands and computer mouse operating time.
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Keywords: Epidemiology; Ergonomics; Occupational diseases; Prevention; Sick leave; Work ability

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Sahlgrenska University Hospital and Academy at Göteborg University UGOT, Göteborg, Sweden 2: Occupational Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

Publication date: November 1, 2007

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