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J Occup Rehabil. 2007 Sep;17(3):370-82. Epub 2007 Jul 18.

Loss of productivity due to neck/shoulder symptoms and hand/arm symptoms: results from the PROMO-study.

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TNO Work and Employment, P.O. Box 718, 2130 AS, Hoofddorp, The Netherlands.



The objective of the present study is to describe the extent of productivity loss among computer workers with neck/shoulder symptoms and hand/arm symptoms, and to examine associations between pain intensity, various physical and psychosocial factors and productivity loss in computer workers with neck/shoulder and hand/arm symptoms.


A cross-sectional design was used. The study population consisted of 654 computer workers with neck/shoulder or hand/arm symptoms from five different companies. Descriptive statistics were used to describe the occurrence of self-reported productivity loss. Logistic regression analyses were used to examine the associations.


In 26% of all the cases reporting symptoms, productivity loss was involved, the most often in cases reporting both symptoms (36%). Productivity loss involved sickness absence in 11% of the arm/hand cases, 32% of the neck/shoulder cases and 43% of the cases reporting both symptoms. The multivariate analyses showed statistically significant odds ratios for pain intensity (OR: 1.26; CI: 1.12-1.41), for high effort/no low reward (OR: 2.26; CI: 1.24-4.12), for high effort/low reward (OR: 1.95; CI: 1.09-3.50), and for low job satisfaction (OR: 3.10; CI: 1.44-6.67). Physical activity in leisure time, full-time work and overcommitment were not associated with productivity loss.


In most computer workers with neck/shoulder symptoms or hand/arm symptoms productivity loss derives from a decreased performance at work and not from sickness absence. Favorable psychosocial work characteristics might prevent productivity loss in symptomatic workers.

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