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RR545 - A staged approach to reducing musculoskeletal disorder (MSDs) in the workplace

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) remain the most common form of occupational ill-health in Great Britain. Recent research by the authors (Whysall, Haslam and Haslam, 2005) involved the development and evaluation of a new and innovative approach to reducing MSDs. These authors applied a model from health psychology (stage of change model) to develop interventions more closely matched to worker and manager stage of change. Twenty four interventions were monitored within a variety of organisations for up to six months. Tailored interventions (matched to stage of change) were found to be more effective in promoting risk-awareness, promoting behaviour change aimed at reducing risks, and in reducing self-reported musculoskeletal discomfort in a number of body areas.

The study described in this report involved a longer-term follow-up at 15 months post-intervention and at 20 months post-intervention to ascertain whether the improvements seen at 6 months persist in the longer term. The results show that the benefits in behaviour change and symptom reduction persist over a longer period of follow-up. Tailored interventions were found to be more effective in promoting behaviour change and reducing self-reported musculoskeletal discomfort over a 20 month follow-up period.

These findings suggest that scope exists for improving the success of interventions by tailoring advice according to stage of change. This approach increases the uptake, implementation, and maintenance of risk-reducing measures.

This report and the work it describes were funded by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Its contents, including any opinions and/or conclusions expressed, are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect HSE policy.

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Updated 2010-03-19