Effects of ergonomic intervention on work-related upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders among computer workers: a randomized controlled trial

  • Sina EsmaeilzadehEmail author
  • Emel Ozcan
  • Nalan Capan
Original Article



The aim of the study was to determine effects of ergonomic intervention on work-related upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders (WUEMSDs) among computer workers.


Four hundred computer workers answered a questionnaire on work-related upper extremity musculoskeletal symptoms (WUEMSS). Ninety-four subjects with WUEMSS using computers at least 3 h a day participated in a prospective, randomized controlled 6-month intervention. Body posture and workstation layouts were assessed by the Ergonomic Questionnaire. We used the Visual Analogue Scale to assess the intensity of WUEMSS. The Upper Extremity Function Scale was used to evaluate functional limitations at the neck and upper extremities. Health-related quality of life was assessed with the Short Form-36. After baseline assessment, those in the intervention group participated in a multicomponent ergonomic intervention program including a comprehensive ergonomic training consisting of two interactive sessions, an ergonomic training brochure, and workplace visits with workstation adjustments. Follow-up assessment was conducted after 6 months.


In the intervention group, body posture (p < 0.001) and workstation layout (p = 0.002) improved over 6 months; furthermore, intensity (p < 0.001), duration (p < 0.001), and frequency (p = 0.009) of WUEMSS decreased significantly in the intervention group compared with the control group. Additionally, the functional status (p = 0.001), and physical (p < 0.001), and mental (p = 0.035) health-related quality of life improved significantly compared with the controls. There was no improvement of work day loss due to WUEMSS (p > 0.05).


Ergonomic intervention programs may be effective in reducing ergonomic risk factors among computer workers and consequently in the secondary prevention of WUEMSDs.


Ergonomic intervention Upper extremity Musculoskeletal disorders Computer workers 


Health-related QoL

Health-related quality of life


National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health


Nordic Musculoskeletal Questionnaire


Short Form-36


Upper Extremity Function Scale


Visual Analogue Scale


Work-related upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders


Work-related upper extremity musculoskeletal symptoms


Workday loss



We would like to thank both the management and the employees of the Istanbul Faculty of Medicine, who supported or participated in the study. We gratefully acknowledge the Scientific Research Projects Unit of the Istanbul University, which supported in presenting this research in the 4th Applied Human Factors and Ergonomics (AHFE) Conference 2012, USA (Ref. UDP-22322/2012).

Conflict of interest

No competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Musculoskeletal Disorders and Ergonomics, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Istanbul Faculty of MedicineIstanbul UniversityIstanbulTurkey

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