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Effect evaluation of a self-management programme for employees with complaints of the arm, neck or shoulder: a randomised controlled trial
  1. Nathan Hutting1,2,
  2. J Bart Staal1,3,
  3. Josephine A Engels2,
  4. Yvonne F Heerkens2,
  5. Sarah I Detaille2,4,
  6. Maria W G Nijhuis-van der Sanden1
  1. 1Radboud University Medical Center, Radboud Institute for Health Sciences, IQ Healthcare, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
  2. 2Faculty of Health and Social Studies, HAN University of Applied Sciences, Research Group Occupation & Health, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
  3. 3Faculty of Health and Social Studies, HAN University of Applied Sciences, Research Group Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
  4. 4HAN University of Applied Sciences, HAN Seneca, Expertise Centre for Sports, Work and Health, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to Nathan Hutting, Faculty of Health and Social Studies, HAN University of Applied Sciences, Research Group Occupation & Health, P.O. Box 6960, Nijmegen 6503 GL, The Netherlands; nathan.hutting{at}


Objective To evaluate the effectiveness of a self-management intervention (including an eHealth module), compared with usual care, in employees with chronic non-specific complaints of the arm, neck or shoulder (persisting >3 months).

Methods Participants were randomised into the self-management group (SG) or usual care group (UCG). The SG participated in 6 self-management sessions and could use an eHealth module; the UCG could use all available usual care. The primary outcome of the study was score on the Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand questionnaire (DASH). Secondary outcomes included: absenteeism, pain in the previous week, quality of life, pain catastrophising, self-efficacy, work style, presenteeism, fatigue, and limitations experienced during work. Data were analysed using generalised estimating equations (GEE) linear regression and Mann-Whitney U tests, and were collected at baseline, 3-month, 6-month, and 12-month follow-up.

Results On the general module of the DASH, no significant difference between SG and the UCG was detected. On most of the other outcome measures, there were no significant between-group differences. In the DASH work module, the between-group effect was −3.82 (95% CI −7.46 to −0.19, p=0.04). For limitations experienced in job-related activities the between-group effect was −1.01 (95% CI −1.97 to −0.04, p=0.04). The mean hours of sport activities in the past 3 months, measured at 12 months, was 1.00 h (95% CI −1.90 to −0.12 h, p=0.03) less in the SG compared with the UCG.

Conclusions The self-management intervention improved the participants’ perceived disability during work. Since no significant between-group differences were found on most outcome measures, the results of this study should be interpreted with caution.

Trial registration number Dutch Trial Registration number NTR 3816.

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