Stress and work-related upper extremity disorders: implications for prevention and management.
BACKGROUND: A causal link between stress and work-related musculoskeletal disorders of the upper extremities (WRUEDs) has been established, but there is less evidence for a beneficial effect of stress reduction interventions on WRUED symptoms and incidence. METHODS: Searches of Medline, Ergonomics Abstracts, and Psychlit from 1990 to 2001 identified studies that either targeted stress and measured WRUED outcomes, or described other interventions with both stress and WRUED outcomes. RESULTS: Workplace interventions, including discrete improvements in technology, work organization and ergonomics, and more comprehensive approaches can reduce levels of stress. In a few studies, these interventions have been associated with decreases in WRUED symptoms. Similar effects are noted in stress-related interventions targeting individuals before WRUEDs have appeared, and at several stages of these conditions. CONCLUSIONS: Health care providers can recognize stress-WRUED interactions through careful, directed inquiry. Both individual as well as workplace-targeted interventions, delivered in the primary care setting or workplace, may be helpful. Future research priorities include prospective studies of well-defined interventions, with ample measures of subject, intervention and workplace characteristics that can impact outcomes, and adequate follow-up to determine sustained effects.
Pransky, G; Robertson, MM; Moon, SD
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