Systematic review: height-adjustable workstations to reduce sedentary behaviour in office-based workers

Occup Med (Lond). 2015 Jul;65(5):357-66. doi: 10.1093/occmed/kqv044. Epub 2015 May 1.


Background: Time spent sitting in the workplace is an important contributor to overall sedentary risk. Installation of height-adjustable workstations has been proposed as a feasible approach for reducing occupational sitting time in office workers.

Aims: To provide an accurate overview of the controlled trials that have evaluated the effects of height-adjustable workstation interventions on workplace sitting time in office-based workers.

Methods: A comprehensive search was conducted up until March 2014 in the following databases: Medline, PsychINFO, CENTRAL, EMBASE and PEDro. To identify unpublished studies and grey literature, the reference lists of relevant official or scientific web pages were also checked. Studies assessing the effectiveness of height-adjustable workstations using a randomized or non-randomized controlled design were included.

Results: The initial search yielded a total of 8497 citations. After a thorough selection process, five studies were included with 172 participants. A formal quality assessment indicated that risk of bias was high in all studies and heterogeneity in interventions and outcomes prevented meta-analysis. Nevertheless, all studies reported that height-adjustable workstation interventions reduced occupational sitting time in office workers. There was insufficient evidence to determine effects on other relevant health outcomes (e.g. body composition, musculoskeletal symptoms, mental health).

Conclusions: There is insufficient evidence to make firm conclusions regarding the effects of installing height-adjustable workstations on sedentary behaviour and associated health outcomes in office workers. Larger and longer term controlled studies are needed, which include more representative populations.

Keywords: Active workstations; height-adjustable desks; sedentary behaviour; workplace interventions..

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Computers
  • Ergonomics / methods*
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Interior Design and Furnishings / instrumentation*
  • Motor Activity
  • Occupational Health
  • Posture
  • Sedentary Behavior*
  • Workplace / standards*