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Effectiveness of workplace interventions in the prevention of upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders and symptoms: an update of the evidence
  1. D Van Eerd1,2,
  2. C Munhall1,
  3. E Irvin1,
  4. D Rempel3,
  5. S Brewer4,
  6. A J van der Beek5,
  7. J T Dennerlein5,6,
  8. J Tullar7,
  9. K Skivington1,8,
  10. C Pinion4,
  11. B Amick1,9
  1. 1Institute for Work & Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2School of Public Health and Health Systems, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
  3. 3Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, Richmond, California, USA
  4. 4CB&I, Inc, The Woodlands, Texas, USA
  5. 5Department of Public and Occupational Health, EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  6. 6Department of Physical Therapy, Movement & Rehabilitation Science, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  7. 7School of Public Health, Institute for Health Policy, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Houston, Texas, USA
  8. 8MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK
  9. 9Florida International University, Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work, Miami, Florida, USA
  1. Correspondence to D Van Eerd, Institute for Work & Health, 481 University Ave, Suite 800, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5G 2E9; dvaneerd{at}


The burden of disabling musculoskeletal pain and injuries (musculoskeletal disorders, MSDs) arising from work-related causes in many workplaces remains substantial. There is little consensus on the most appropriate interventions for MSDs. Our objective was to update a systematic review of workplace-based interventions for preventing and managing upper extremity MSD (UEMSD). We followed a systematic review process developed by the Institute for Work & Health and an adapted best evidence synthesis. 6 electronic databases were searched (January 2008 until April 2013 inclusive) yielding 9909 non-duplicate references. 26 high-quality and medium-quality studies relevant to our research question were combined with 35 from the original review to synthesise the evidence on 30 different intervention categories. There was strong evidence for one intervention category, resistance training, leading to the recommendation: Implementing a workplace-based resistance training exercise programme can help prevent and manage UEMSD and symptoms. The synthesis also revealed moderate evidence for stretching programmes, mouse use feedback and forearm supports in preventing UEMSD or symptoms. There was also moderate evidence for no benefit for EMG biofeedback, job stress management training, and office workstation adjustment for UEMSD and symptoms. Messages are proposed for both these and other intervention categories.

  • Upper Extremity
  • Prevention
  • Workplace
  • Review

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