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.

The Research Report Series are produced in Adobe Acrobat. The use of the latest version of the software is recommended which is available at the Adobe website via the link on this page.

Assistance in the use of Adobe Acrobat PDF files is available on our FAQs page.

Updated 2021-04-20