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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: Objective: The purpose of this paper is to describe women's work in Maya communities in the Guatemala Highlands, along with some of the trends accompanying the rapid societal change there. Method: Over the course of six years, observations and interviews focused on two specific groups of women. The first were traditional, home-based women, the second, teachers in a primary school. Resulting transcripts and field notes were analyzed by the researchers to identify themes related to the…women's perspectives on work, the patterns of their work activities, and the importance of work in their lives. Women who had been interviewed were asked to reflect on the themes identified. Results: All the women engaged in paid work activities and were responsible for obligatory tasks in the home. The traditional group preserved the tradition of weaving, but remained largely illiterate, while the emerging group was literate, but did not learn to weave. Conclusion: Cultural change is both positive and negative, as described by these women. It is important to understand the particular values of the culture, and to recognize that these may not conform to Western (that is to say US.) beliefs and practices.
Abstract: Through a literature review, this paper explores current issues influencing the transition to meaningful adult work for youth living in Western contexts. Historical and contemporary perspectives of children's work are discussed. With the current emphasis on finding meaningful work, youth face greater challenges because the transition to adult work is more complex, offering additional options without structured pathways. Today's youth are required to invest more energy into developing the skills and self-knowledge…needed to make meaningful decisions about future work. Given this challenge, a number of key factors associated with the successful transition to adult work are identified and discussed including social origin, time orientation, parental influence, work experience, and participation in structured leisure pursuits. For each key factor, implications for practice are offered to help parents, teachers, youth workers, and other significant adults foster interactions and experiences that may assist today's youth in successfully transitioning to meaningful adult work.
Keywords: youth, work, leisure, occupation, meaning
Abstract: Objective: The purpose of this pilot study was to examine the effectiveness of a four-week work rehabilitation program. Method: Investigators conducted a retrospective chart review of 312 clients participating in the Work Evaluation and Rehabilitation Clinic (WERC) Program from 1994–2000. Only 196 charts were sufficiently complete to be included in the study. Of these 196 prospective clients, 166 began the WERC program and 141 completed the program and were included in the database. Data were…gathered from the initial history and evaluations conducted upon admission to the program and from the final evaluation conducted at the time of discharge. Demographic information was recorded. Data from the following assessments were collected: pre- and post-scores for subjective measures of pain using the Oswestry Back Pain Scale and a self-report of pain, the Beck Depression Inventory, the Waddell Sign, and pre- and post-scores of several physical performance tasks. Results: Statistically significant post-test improvements were shown in all six outcome measures used in this study. A decrease in pain correlated with the Floor to Waist Lift test and with the Carrying An Object 20 Feet test. The percentage increase in Waddell's Sign correlated with a decrease in the Carrying An Object 20 Feet test. The Floor to Waist Lift test correlated with the Carrying an Object 20 Feet test. The Oswestry Test correlated with the Beck Depression Scale. There was no significant relationship found between diagnosis of back injury and Waddell's Sign, between either the Waddell's Sign and the Oswestry, or the Waddell's Sign and depression. A regression analysis revealed diagnosis, level of education, gender, and pre-injury work load as significant predictors of improvements made during the work program. Conclusion: The program was shown to be effective as measured by the post-test improvements in all 6 performance tests. Although more research is warranted into the effectiveness of treatment for clients with chronic pain, it appears that there is a relationship between pain and physical performance and pain and depression in clients completing a work hardening program.
Abstract: Objective: The purpose of this study was to report the findings of a program evaluation for an occupational rehabilitation program in the Midwest. Method: An ex-post facto chart review was performed on 50 charts using demographic data, results from tests of performance and pain measures, and data from patient satisfaction questionnaires to find evidence of excellence in the program, and to identify areas for improvement. Results: Over 97% of the participants actually completed the…program and 76% returned to work within 3 months after program completion. Ninety-two percent indicated overall satisfaction with the program, and all aspects of the program were rated with a mean score of 4.25 or above on a 1 to 5 Likert scale. Evaluation of perceived pain scales of the participants indicate no discernable relationship between intensity of pain and successful return to work. Conclusion: The program showed a high completion rate, a high return to work rate, and high levels of patient satisfaction. Suggestions for improvement include an increase in use of real and simulated work activities, better documentation of pain measures, better programs to address psychosocial issues, lengthening the program, and increased communication with case managers and professionals outside of the work program.
Abstract: Objective: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of an active ergonomics training (AET) program in computer users. Two constructs from the social-cognitive theory were adopted to provide a more comprehensive assessment of the proximal markers of behavior change. Method: Eighty-seven symptomatic and asymptomatic employees who worked at a computer for a minimum of 10~hours per week took part in a prospective randomized controlled study. Subjects participated in a six-hour training…intervention at their workplace. Key elements of the AET intervention were skill development in workstation analysis, active participation, and implementation of multiple prevention strategies. Results: After receiving AET, risk factor exposure was significantly reduced for participants at higher risk [F(1,82) = 6.42, p < 0.01]. Significant increases in knowledge [F(1,74) = 8.39, p < 0.01], self-efficacy [F(1,73) = 6.95, p < 0.01], and outcome expectations [F(1,75) = 8.75, p < 0.01] were found in the intervention group. When the participants were stratified according to the presence of symptoms at baseline, the group with pain that received the AET intervention had significantly less upper back pain intensity (z = -2.03, p < 0.05), pain frequency (z = -2.70, p < 0.01), and pain duration (z = -3.25, p < 0.01) post-intervention than the control group with pain. Conclusion: Results from this study provide evidence that participative training in workstation ergonomics can improve work postures, work practices, risk factor exposure, and pain.
Abstract: Objective: Ergonomic principles at the computer workstation may reduce the occurrence of work related injuries commonly associated with intensive computer use. A program implemented in 2001 by an occupational therapist and a physical therapist utilized these preventative measures with education about ergonomics, individualized evaluations of computer workstations, and recommendations for ergonomic and environmental changes. Method: This study examined program outcomes and perceived effectiveness based on review of documents, interviews, and surveys of the…employees and the plant manager. Results: The program was deemed successful as shown by 59% of all therapist recommendations and 74% of ergonomic recommendations being implemented by the company, with an 85% satisfaction rate for the ergonomic interventions and an overall employee satisfaction rate of 70%. Eighty-one percent of the physical problems reported by employees were resolved to their satisfaction one year later. Conclusion: Successful implementation of ergonomics programs depend upon effective communication and education of the consumers, and the support, cooperation and collaboration of management and employees.
Keywords: cumulative trauma, ergonomics, computers, work
Abstract: Objective: Independent living services were provided to fourteen veterans with severe mental illness who live together in a rural group home setting. The return to work efforts for three veterans who identified this as a personal goal are described. Method: Data were collected using The Satisfaction with Life Scale, The Independent Living Continuum, The Minnesota Follow-up Scale, The Recovery Assessment Scale, The Readiness to Change Scale, The Flinn Performance Screening Tool, observation, and informant…interviews. Descriptive methods were used to compare and contrast residents who were working vs. those who were not. Results: Two of the three individuals who were working remained employed after eighteen months. The three consumers who ultimately returned to work expressed an initial desire to be employed and were more likely to participate in performance-based activities than other residents of the group home. The skills and barriers to employment were different for each person due to different interests, skills, and motivations. Likewise, their experiences of finding and attempting to maintain employment differed, both because of their personal attributes and because of situational factors. This suggests the need for individualized vocational rehabilitation programs. Conclusion: In spite of the limitations of the study, including a small and homogenous sample, the findings can assist caregivers, mental health professionals, and consumers with severe mental illness in recognizing those individuals who are work-ready and who live in this type of supportive environment.
Keywords: employment, recovery, consumers with severe mental illness, residential care facilities
Abstract: Arthritis is one of the most common diseases and a leading cause of disability in adults. Returning injured workers to work and preventing work disability is the primary mission of occupational health professionals. The purpose of this study was to identify risk factors associated with work disability and intervention strategies. This study is a retrospective cohort analysis of secondary individual level data. The data for the study were collected by the National Health Interview Survey, Disability…Supplement (NHIS-D) 1995. Community dwelling disabled persons with functional limitations due to arthritic conditions were included in this analysis. A total of 286 records were available for logistic regression analysis. The outcome variable was work status, either working or not working. The significant predictors of working status were ability to lift 10 pounds (OR = 1.64), college education (OR = 0.21), age (OR = 1.03), and less than high school education (OR = 2.48). Thirty-four percent of the variance in working status was explained by the model that also included health status, difficulty standing, difficulty walking up steps, difficulty walking 1/4 mile, ethnicity, and gender. Younger disabled persons with arthritis, who have little difficulty lifting 10 pounds, and have some college education have better odds of working. Occupational health professionals need to look for ways to improve the educational status and functional lifting ability of disabled individuals with arthritis.
Keywords: arthritis, work status, function, disability
Abstract: Traditional definitions of work may not reflect the activities of older adults. A broader definition that incorporates non-economic as well as economic measures may better describe their participation in the labor force and the meanings they ascribe to these activities. Because productive activity has been linked to successful aging, it is important to understand how elders perceive work. Twenty-six community-residing older adults were interviewed over a two-year period. Participants were mostly female and represented diverse…cultural, religious and educational backgrounds. All these individuals participated in some activities they perceived as work. Three themes emerged as describing their attributions of meaning or importance to productive activities: contribution to self-concept, giving back to community, and staying engaged. Findings suggest that the productive activities of older adults contribute to quality of life for them and have implications for society as well.
Keywords: gerontology, occupation, life satisfaction
Abstract: Background and purpose: This was a descriptive and exploratory study of electromyographic (EMG) activity of wrist extensor musculature specific to the extensor digitorum (ED), extensor carpi radialis brevis (ECRB) and flexor carpi radialis (FCR) in individuals with a medical diagnosis of the common work associated complaint of lateral epicondylitis (LE). The purpose was to evaluate and compare the EMG activity of the selected forearm muscles during three different types of resistive (strengthening) therapeutic exercises (rubber…ball, theraputty, and "make-it-disappear" (MID) sponge) in participants with LE. Participants: Five individuals between the ages of 44 and 55 years of age diagnosed with lateral epicondylitis by a physician were recruited on a voluntary basis from a local outpatient clinic. Methods: The participants completed 1 min. of each of the resistive exercises, which were assigned randomly. Muscle activity was collected simultaneously by 3 surface electrodes (4/18/16 DE -2.3 silver surface EMG electrodes, Delsys Inc, Boston, MA) and recorded on an EMG Myomonitor-4 (Delsys Inc, Boston, MA) utilizing EmgCE software (Delsys Inc, Boston, MA). The raw EMG signal was converted to a root mean square (RMS) at each 0.0625 second interval during the full 60 second recording using EMGWorks, (Delsys, Inc, Boston, MA). The data were pooled, and the mean RMS was then determined as an overall measure of activity for each muscle during the 60 recording. Results: A 1-way ANOVA with Tukey's post-test was completed using Prizm Software (Graph Pad Software, Inc, San Diego, CA) for a comparison of the mean RMS values of each muscle during each activity. Statistically significant between group differences were noted for all muscles, among all exercises. Relative activity was noted to be greatest for ED and FCR during MID exercise, and for ECRB during putty exercise. Conclusion: All three exercises represent different patterns of muscle activity, for the muscles observed. The possible differences in the recorded activity may be consequent to the specific positioning and movement requirements involved in the performance of the distinct exercises. Practitioners may find the evidence of this study helpful in designing rehabilitation programs for those affected with lateral epicondylitis.
Abstract: Researchers in rehabilitation counseling and disability studies sometimes use analogue research, which involves materials that approximate or describe reality (e.g., written vignettes, videotaped exemplars) rather than investigating phenomena in real-world settings. Analogue research often utilizes experimental designs, and it thereby frequently possesses a high degree of internal validity. Analogue research allows investigators to exercise tight control over the implementation of the independent or treatment variable and over potentially confounding variables, which enables…them to isolate the effects of those treatment variables on selected outcome measures. However, the simulated nature of analogue research presents an important threat to external validity. As such, the generalizability of analogue research to real-life settings and situations may be problematic. These and other issues germane to analogue research in vocational rehabilitation are discussed in this article, illustrated with examples from the contemporary literature.