Participatory ergonomics as a return-to-work intervention: a future challenge?

J R Anema, I A Steenstra, I J M Urlings, P M Bongers, E M M de Vroome, W van Mechelen

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BACKGROUND: Participatory ergonomics (PE) are often applied for prevention of low back pain (LBP). In this pilot-study, a PE-program is applied to the disability management of workers sick listed due to LBP.

METHODS: The process, implementation, satisfaction, and barriers for implementation concerning the PE-program were analyzed quantitatively and qualitatively for 35 workers sick listed 2-6 weeks due to LBP and their ergonomists.

RESULTS: Two-hundred-and-seventy ergonomic solutions were proposed to the employer. They were targeted more at work design and organization of work (58.9%) than at workplace and equipment design (38.9%). They were planned mostly on a short-term basis (74.8%). Almost half (48.9%) of the solutions for work adjustment were completely or partially implemented within 3 months after the first day of absenteeism. Most workers were satisfied about the PE-program (median score 7.8 on a 10-point scale) and reported a stimulating effect on return-to-work (66.7%). Main obstacles to implementation were technical or organizational difficulties (50.0%) and physical disabilities of the worker (44.8%).

CONCLUSIONS: This study suggests that compliance, acceptance, and satisfaction related to the PE-program were good for all participants. Almost half of the proposed solutions were implemented.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-81
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican journal of industrial medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2003


  • Adult
  • Compliance
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Ergonomics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain/prevention & control
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Pilot Projects
  • Surveys and Questionnaires

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