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WORK: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment & Rehabilitation is an interdisciplinary, international journal which publishes high quality peer-reviewed manuscripts covering the entire scope of the occupation of work. The journal's subtitle has been deliberately laid out: The first goal is the prevention of illness, injury, and disability. When this goal is not achievable, the attention focuses on assessment to design client-centered intervention, rehabilitation, treatment, or controls that use scientific evidence to support best practice.
WORK occasionally publishes thematic issues, but in general, issues cover a wide range of topics such as ergonomic considerations with children, youth and students, the challenges facing an aging workforce, workplace violence, injury management, performing artists, ergonomic product evaluations, and the awareness of the political, cultural, and environmental determinants of health related to work.
Dr. Karen Jacobs, the founding editor, and her editorial board especially encourage the publication of research studies, clinical practice, case study reports, as well as personal narratives and critical reflections of lived work experiences (autoethnographic/autobiographic scholarship),
Sounding Board commentaries and
Speaking of Research articles which provide the foundation for better understanding research to facilitate knowledge dissemination.
Narrative Reflections on Occupational Transitions, a new column, is for persons who have successfully transitioned into, between, or out of occupations to tell their stories in a narrative form. With an internationally renowned editorial board,
WORK maintains high standards in the evaluation and publication of manuscripts. All manuscripts are reviewed expeditiously and published in a timely manner.
WORK prides itself on being an author-friendly journal.
WORK celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2015.
*WORK is affiliated with the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT)* *WORK is endorsed by the International Ergonomics Association (IEA)* *WORK gives out the yearly Cheryl Bennett Best Paper Award*
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) have been recognized as one of the main occupational health problems for dentists. Many studies have suggested that dentists experience work-related pain or discomfort in the neck, shoulder, and back, as well as in other parts of the body. OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to examine the relationship between specific physical and psychosocial factors and/or ergonomic conditions on MSD symptoms among dentists in Malaysia. METHODS: A group of 85 dentists was asked to complete a questionnaire to determine whether their complaints were related to physical and psychosocial factors and/or ergonomic conditions in…their practices. RESULTS: Among the nine reviewed body areas, the shoulders were most often affected by symptoms of MSDs (92.7%). Moreover, MSDs of the neck and upper back were most likely to prevent these practitioners from engaging in normal activities (32.9%). In general, no significant differences were found in the prevalence of MSD symptoms in relation to gender, age, body mass index, years in practice, number of patients, and frequency of breaks. CONCLUSIONS: Our results were consistent with those reported in other studies that focused on MSD problems among dentists in other countries. To reduce the prevalence of MSDs, more attention should be paid to instituting ergonomically sensible approaches in the dental practice setting.
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Many work-related items are not included in the current classification of environmental factors from the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF). Furthermore, personal factors are not classified and the ICF only provides a very limited list of examples. These facts make the ICF less useful for occupational health care and for research in the field of occupation and health. OBJECTIVE: The objective of this discussion paper is to introduce an elaboration of contextual factors, focussing on factors that influence work participation. METHODS: During the last 12 years, we developed two concept lists…from the bottom up. These lists are based on our experiences in teaching and research, suggestions from students and other researchers, and factors found in the literature. In the fall of 2015 a scoping literature review was done to check for missing factors in these two concept lists. RESULTS: An elaboration of contextual factors, consisting of a list of work-related environmental factors and a list of personal factors. CONCLUSIONS: Important contextual factors that influence work participation are identified. Researchers, teachers, students, occupational and insurance physicians, allied health care professionals, employers, employees, and policy makers are invited to use the elaboration and to make suggestions for improvement. The elaboration and the suggestions received can be used in an ICF revision process. The development of an ICF ontology must be given priority, to give room to this elaboration, which will increase the applicability of the ICF and enable mapping with other terminologies and classifications.
Keywords: Environmental factors, personal factors, work participation, work ability
vol. Preprint, no. Preprint, pp. 1-18, 2017
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Ensuring Veteran employment needs are met is a top priority for the Department of Veteran Affairs and the United States government. However, Veterans, especially those with mental health disorders, continue to encounter difficulties when employed. While many employment related programs offer numerous services aimed at helping Veterans gain employment, their ability to maintain long-term employment remains unknown. OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to understand factors that affect the ability of Veterans with mental health disorders to maintain long-term employment. METHODS: An exploratory, qualitative study design consisting of semi-structured interviews with 10 Veterans…was performed. Inductive thematic analysis was performed to identify salient themes. RESULTS: We found that participants’ symptoms manifested themselves within the workplace affecting their ability to maintain employment, participants felt as if they had been demoted from what they did in the military, and they felt unable to relate to civilian co-workers. Strategies that helped some transition into the civilian workforce were also identified. CONCLUSIONS: A better understanding of the difficulties some Veterans face when trying to maintain employment is needed. Our findings suggest that increasing awareness of existing programs and ensuring that services provide resources and skills that help Veterans maintain long-term employment is critical.
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Integrating work activity issues into design process is a broadly discussed theme in ergonomics. Participation is presented as the main means for such integration. However, a late participation can limit the development of both project solutions and future work activity. OBJECTIVE: This article presents the concept of construction of experience aiming at the articulated development of future activities and project solutions. It is a non-teleological approach where the initial concepts will be transformed by the experience built up throughout the design process. METHODS: The method applied was a case study of an ergonomic participation…during the design of a new laboratory complex for biotechnology research. Data was obtained through analysis of records in a simulation process using a Lego scale model and interviews with project participants. RESULTS: The simulation process allowed for developing new ways of working and generating changes in the initial design solutions, which enable workers to adopt their own developed strategies for conducting work more safely and efficiently in the future work system. CONCLUSIONS: Each project decision either opens or closes a window of opportunities for developing a future activity. Construction of experience in a non-teleological design process allows for understanding the consequences of project solutions for future work.
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Sustainable development requires learning, but the contents of learning are often complex and ambiguous. This requires new integrated approaches from research. It is argued that investigation of people’s learning challenges in every-day work is beneficial for research on sustainable development. OBJECTIVE: The aim of the paper is to describe a research method for examining learning challenges in promoting sustainable development. This method is illustrated with a case example from organic vegetable farming in Finland. METHODS: The method, based on Activity Theory, combines historical analysis with qualitative analysis of need expressions in discourse data.…RESULTS: The method linking local and subjective need expressions with general historical analysis is a promising way to overcome the gap between the individual and society, so much needed in research for sustainable development. CONCLUSIONS: Dialectically informed historical frameworks have practical value as tools in collaborative negotiations and participatory designs for sustainable development. The simultaneous use of systemic and subjective perspectives allows researchers to manage the complexity of practical work activities and to avoid too simplistic presumptions about sustainable development.
Keywords: Organic vegetable farming, activity theory, contradictions, need expressions
vol. Preprint, no. Preprint, pp. 1-10, 2017
Abstract: BACKGROUND: The sustainability of the workforce is threatened due to working conditions. One of the reasons for this is an imbalance between the working conditions and the capacity of the workers. OBJECTIVE: The objective of the paper, based on a literature review, is to explore the relationship between two main concepts, beginning with sustainability, and finished with ergonomics. Based on that relationship, determine if ergonomics could be helpful to improve the sustainability of the workforce. METHODS: Literature review was based on two keywords: sustainability and ergonomics. The focus was on create a theoretical path between…these two concepts. The literature review draws on 100 journal articles, books, conference proceedings, thesis and reports. RESULTS: The results of the literature review highlights that an ergonomics approach is helpful and appropriate to determine the mismatch between people capacity and system demand. In that sense, the literature review reveals that both disciplines, ergonomics and sustainability, share the same principles and that the mix of both has significant potential. However, the literature also shows a lack of empirical information that proves that potential. CONCLUSION: The review first posits that sustainability principles could be helpful to improve the working conditions, and second, that an ergonomics approach provides information related with working conditions, organizations’ problems and the needs of workers that would be helpful to create a sustainability workforce.
Keywords: Sustainability, workforce sustainability, occupational health problems, working conditions and ergonomics
vol. Preprint, no. Preprint, pp. 1-12, 2017
Abstract: BACKGROUND: While farming in France and generally in Europe is continuing to intensify, at the expense of its environmental sustainability, promising alternatives are emerging. OBJECTIVE: The processes whereby farmers change and transform their own work, to shift from an intensive mode of production to a self-sufficient and autonomous one, need to be formalized if we are to further our understanding of why and how these forms of sustainable farming activity emerge. METHODS: We use the development of professional worlds theory, a systemic representation of workers’ activity, whereby their experience is formalized. This can be explained…as the praxis1 , conceptual and axiological underpinnings form a system with the object of the action. The development of a professional world is analyzed according to the evolution of its components and the search for pragmatic coherence within it. We analyzed professional transitions towards self-sufficient and autonomous mixed farming through a case study. RESULTS: Our findings showed that the transition is initiated by the discovery of the unthinkable, awareness of a discrepancy between what the farmers think and what they do, the appearance of problems, and the response to external constraints. Professional transition is a non-teleological and non-incremental process; it corresponds to a comparison with reality, and a resolution of difficulties. This process is stimulated by the use of artifacts instrumented by the farmers. CONCLUSION: New perspectives are opened up by this formalization of transitions, in terms of (i ) support towards sustainable farming and (ii) the design of sustainable farming systems.
Keywords: Professional transition, design, self-sufficiency, autonomy, mixed farming
vol. Preprint, no. Preprint, pp. 1-13, 2017
Abstract: BACKGROUND: This research was conducted in the Brazilian granite mining sector. After epidemiological studies, it was established that professional pneumoconiosis is related to the inhalation of dust. Therefore, the Brazilian mining health and safety regulatory standard made it compulsory to provide humidification throughout the extraction and mineral treatment processes. OBJECTIVE: To develop the concept of systemic appropriation of the technological innovations that aim to protect the worker’s health. Until now, appropriation has usually been presented in its individual dimensions. In this article, the focus is placed on the collective and organizational aspects of this appropriation. METHODS:…Two methodological approaches were used: interviews with the different individuals involved in order to report the history of the implementation of technical devices which meet the humidification norm; and ergonomic analysis of the work of the operators who used these devices. RESULTS: The appropriation of the technical devices occurred at two distinct levels: 1) Individual, related to the direct contact of the operator with the instrument; 2) Systemic, as the effects of the innovation propagated through the system affecting interdependent tasks, adaptation of the work organization and new production strategies. CONCLUSIONS: The implementation of prevention norms require innovations which are necessarily accompanied by transformations in the companies’ techniques, work and management.
Abstract: BACKGROUND: This paper addresses the need for a paradigm shift from post-diagnosis tertiary care towards maintenance and promotion of health across the lifespan, for healthcare in general and in occupational healthcare specifically. It is based on the assumption that the realization of this paradigm shift may be facilitated by teaching (future) occupational health professionals to use the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF). OBJECTIVE: Describing the development of a an ICF based occupational health curriculum. METHODS: Grafting a training trajectory in the ICF for educating the biopsychosocial health paradigm, onto a training trajectory…in the Critical Appraisal of a Topic (CAT), a method for teaching evidence based practice skills. RESULTS: The development process of the training trajectories in the master program Work, Health, and Career at Maastricht University is described as an example of an intervention for shifting the paradigm in healthcare curricula. The expected results are a shift from the biomedical towards the biopsychosocial paradigm, a reductionist approach towards a more holistic view on cases, a reactive way of working towards a more proactive work style, and from using a merely quantifiable evidence base towards using a broad evidence base. CONCLUSIONS: Incorporating the biopsychosocial paradigm into the assessment and scientific reasoning skills of students is not only valuable in occupational healthcare but might be a valuable approach for all disciplines in healthcare for which contextual factors are important e.g. rehabilitation, psychiatry and nutritional science.
Keywords: Biomedical model, biopsychosocialmodel, evidence based practice, (occupational) health professionals
vol. Preprint, no. Preprint, pp. 1-13, 2017
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Functioning including work participation, is an emerging challenge in occupational health. The prevention of long term sickness absence (LTSA) through a strategy involving screening and structured early consultation (preventive strategy) was proven effective and can address participation issues. Implementation of this strategy has proven difficult. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study is to investigate the experiences of occupational physicians (OPs) delivering a structured early consultation to office workers, in order to enhance implementation of the strategy. METHODS: In this case study, a mixed method design was used. Interviews and surveys were conducted to obtain…an in-depth picture of OPs experiences. RESULTS: Factors hindering implementation in relation to the OPs were difficulties in communicating the risk of future sick leave, prioritization of other tasks, maintaining a reactive approach due to work pressure, preference for prevention on the level of the work environment, privacy issues related to labeling workers to have mental or psychosocial issues, and the biomedical model being the mental model in use. CONCLUSIONS: Implementation of the preventive strategy seems to require a more profound focus on the biopsychosocial approach. Training of relevant skills is important to achieve a focus on prevention and fostering health over the lifespan.
Keywords: Process evaluation, case study, preventive strategy, occupational health, screening
vol. Preprint, no. Preprint, pp. 1-16, 2017