Introduction: 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.
Methods: 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.
Results: 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.
Conclusion: 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.