Sitting comfort and discomfort and the relationships with objective measures

Ergonomics. 2003 Aug 15;46(10):985-97. doi: 10.1080/0014013031000121977.


The concepts of comfort and discomfort in sitting are under debate. There is no widely accepted definition, although it is beyond dispute that comfort and discomfort are feelings or emotions that are subjective in nature. Yet, beside several subjective methodologies, several objective methods (e.g. posture analysis, pressure measurements, electromyography (EMG) are in use to assess sitting comfort or discomfort. In the current paper a theoretical framework is presented, in which comfort and discomfort were defined and the hypothetical associations with underlying factors were indicated. Next, the literature was reviewed to determine the relationships between objective measures and subjective ratings of comfort and discomfort. Twenty-one studies were found in which simultaneous measures of an objective parameter and a subjective rating of comfort or discomfort were obtained. Pressure distribution appears to be the objective measure with the most clear association with the subjective ratings. For other variables, regarding spinal profile or muscle activity for instance, the reported associations are less clear and usually not statistically significant.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Equipment Design
  • Ergonomics*
  • Humans
  • Infant Equipment
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Posture
  • Pressure