Aims: To identify prognostic ergonomic and work technique factors for musculoskeletal symptoms among office workers and in a subgroup with highly monotonous repetitive computer work.
Methods: A baseline questionnaire was delivered to 5033 office workers in 11 Danish companies in the first months of 1999, and a follow up questionnaire was mailed in the last months of 2000 to 3361 respondents. A subgroup with highly monotonous repetitive computer work was formed including those that were repeating the same movements and/or tasks for at least 75% of the work time. The questionnaire contained questions on ergonomic factors and factors related to work technique. The outcome variables were based on the frequency of musculoskeletal symptoms during the last 12 months. Logistic regression analyses were used to identify prognostic factors for symptoms in the three body regions.
Results: In total, 39%, 47%, and 51% of the symptomatic subjects had a reduced frequency of symptom days in the neck/shoulder, low back, or elbow/hand region, respectively. In all regions more men than women had reduced symptoms. In the multivariate logistic regression analyses, working no more than 75% of the work time with the computer was a prognostic factor for musculoskeletal symptoms in the neck/shoulder and elbow/hand, and a high influence on the speed of work was a prognostic factor for symptoms in the low back. In the subgroup with highly monotonous repetitive computer work, the odds ratios of the prognostic factors were similar to those for the whole group of office workers.
Conclusion: When organising computer work it is important to allow for physical variation with other work tasks, thereby avoiding working with the computer during all the work time, and further to consider the worker’s own influence on the speed of work.
- computer work
- musculoskeletal symptoms
- prognostic factors
- ergonomic factors
- work technique
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Competing interests: none declared