A systematic review on workplace interventions to manage chronic musculoskeletal conditions

Physiother Res Int. 2018 Oct;23(4):e1738. doi: 10.1002/pri.1738. Epub 2018 Aug 20.


Background and purpose: A review to investigate whether there are effective workplace interventions that manage chronic musculoskeletal disorders.

Methods: The literature search included published articles between 2008 and 2017. The databases used in this search were MEDLINE, Scopus, CINAHL, AMED, PsycINFO, Academic Search Complete, Cochrane, and PEDro. A limited search on websites for relevant grey literature was also conducted.

Results: The review included 12 studies that investigated effectiveness of a specific strength exercise programme or interventions provided by health professionals at the workplace when compared with controls or interventions not at the workplace. Seven studies were classified as high quality (>85% of criteria met) and five studies were classified as acceptable. Studies were heterogeneous preventing a meta-analysis. No intervention was clearly superior to another.

Discussion: There was some consistency in the results of the selected studies, suggesting that workplace interventions such as high-intensity strength exercises and/or integrated health care can decrease pain and symptoms for employees who experience long-term musculoskeletal disorders. However, the current research is limited.

Keywords: chronic musculoskeletal disorders; management; systematic review; workplace.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Disease Management*
  • Ergonomics
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / therapy*
  • Occupational Health
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Workplace*