University of Oulu

Sormunen, E., Mäenpää-Moilanen, E., Ylisassi, H. et al. Participatory Ergonomics Intervention to Prevent Work Disability Among Workers with Low Back Pain: A Randomized Clinical Trial in Workplace Setting. J Occup Rehabil 32, 731–742 (2022).

Participatory ergonomics intervention to prevent work disability among workers with low back pain : a randomized clinical trial in workplace setting

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Author: Sormunen, Erja1; Mäenpää‑Moilanen, Eija1; Ylisassi, Hilkka1;
Organizations: 1Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, P.O. Box 40, 00032, Työterveyslaitos, Helsinki, Finland
2Center for Life Course Health Research, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
3Medical Research Center Oulu, University of Oulu and Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, Finland
4Ilmarinen Mutual Pension Insurance Company, Helsinki, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.8 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2022
Publish Date: 2023-04-28


Purpose In order to support people with low back pain (LBP) to stay at work, work arrangements are regarded important. This study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of a workplace intervention using a participatory approach on work disability of workers with ongoing or recurrent LBP. Methods A total of 107 workers with LBP, with duration of pain for at least two consecutive weeks or recurrent pain of any duration during the last year, were randomized either to the intervention (n = 51) or control group (n = 56). The intervention included arrangements at the workplace, along with individual guidance provided by an occupational physiotherapist (OPT). The randomized intervention study used standard counselling and guidance by an OPT without workplace intervention as a comparison. Surveys were completed at baseline, and 6 and 12 months after baseline. Results There were no statistically significant differences between the intervention and control groups on the primary outcome measure, i.e. self-assessed work ability. We found no between-group differences in perceived health, self-assessed work productivity, number of sickness absence days and severity of back pain. However, there were significant positive within-group changes in the intervention group in the intensity of LBP, perceived health and the number of sickness absence days due to LBP. Conclusion Workplace arrangements are feasible using participatory ergonomics, but more quantitative and qualitative research is needed on its utilization and effectiveness among workers with LBP.

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Series: Journal of occupational rehabilitation
ISSN: 1053-0487
ISSN-E: 1573-3688
ISSN-L: 1053-0487
Volume: 32
Issue: 4
Pages: 731 - 742
DOI: 10.1007/s10926-022-10036-9
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3142 Public health care science, environmental and occupational health
Funding: This study was funded by the Finnish Environment Fund (Grant No. 116150).
Dataset Reference: The collected data and material (background information, data of the questionnaires and workplace arrangements) is stored in Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH) in accordance with good research practice. The research material is maintained on FIOH’s network drive and in the locked room that can only be accessed by the project researchers.
Copyright information: © The Author(s) 2022. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder.