, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 743-765
Date: 07 Nov 2007

The Impact of a Computerized Work Environment on Professional Occupational Groups and Behavioural and Physiological Risk Factors for Musculoskeletal Symptoms: A Literature Review

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Abstract

Introduction Computers have become an essential tool for many office based professional occupations, but their use is also accompanied by change to work demands and psychosocial work environment. Whilst considerable research exists relating to the potential health risks associated with computer work amongst semi-skilled occupations, there is a paucity of knowledge regarding the impact of an increasingly computerized workplace on the physical and psychological wellbeing of professional occupations. Methods A literature search was conducted using OVID Medline, PsycINFO and Cinahl databases. Papers published between 1980 and 2007 were selected for review. These included epidemiological and experimental studies that explored the relationships among occupational demands and stressors, work behaviours and musculoskeletal health in workers operating in a computerized work environment. Results In response to workload, deadline and performance monitoring pressures, many professional workers are often encouraged to perform long hours of computer work with high mental demands; work at a hectic workpace resulting in heightened muscle tension and forces, and with inadequate work breaks. These factors were identified in this review as risk factors for work related musculoskeletal symptoms. Conclusion As new technology continues to computerise the way professionals do their work, it is important for organizations to identify and measure the risks to health and wellbeing associated with these changes. Further research with professional groups is needed to support effective risk management decisions.