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

J Occup Rehabil. 2007 Sep;17(3):370-82. doi: 10.1007/s10926-007-9095-y. Epub 2007 Jul 18.


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.

MeSH terms

  • Absenteeism
  • Cohort Studies
  • Computers*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / complications*
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / psychology
  • Efficiency*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / etiology
  • Neck Pain*
  • Netherlands
  • Occupational Diseases / complications*
  • Occupational Diseases / psychology
  • Shoulder Pain*
  • Upper Extremity / injuries