No evidence for an effect of working from home on neck pain and neck disability among Swiss office workers: Short-term impact of COVID-19

Article


Aegerter, Andrea M., Deforth, Manja, Johnston, Venerina, Sjogaard, Gisela, Volken, Thomas, Luomajoki, Hannu, Dratva, Julia, Dressel, Holger, Distler, Oliver, Elfering, Achim, Melloh, Markus and NEXpro Collaboration Group. 2021. "No evidence for an effect of working from home on neck pain and neck disability among Swiss office workers: Short-term impact of COVID-19." European Spine Journal. 30 (6), pp. 1699-1707. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00586-021-06829-w
Article Title

No evidence for an effect of working from home on neck pain and neck disability among Swiss office workers: Short-term impact of COVID-19

ERA Journal ID16105
Article CategoryArticle
AuthorsAegerter, Andrea M., Deforth, Manja, Johnston, Venerina, Sjogaard, Gisela, Volken, Thomas, Luomajoki, Hannu, Dratva, Julia, Dressel, Holger, Distler, Oliver, Elfering, Achim, Melloh, Markus and NEXpro Collaboration Group
Journal TitleEuropean Spine Journal
Journal Citation30 (6), pp. 1699-1707
Number of Pages9
YearJun 2021
PublisherSpringer
Place of PublicationGermany
ISSN0940-6719
1432-0932
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1007/s00586-021-06829-w
Web Address (URL)https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00586-021-06829-w
Abstract

Purpose
The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of working from home on neck pain (NP) among office workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods
Participants from two Swiss organisations, aged 18–65 years and working from home during the lockdown (n = 69) were included. Baseline data collected in January 2020 before the lockdown (office work) were compared with follow-up data in April 2020 during lockdown (working from home). The primary outcome of NP was assessed with a measure of intensity and disability. Secondary outcomes were quality of workstation ergonomics, number of work breaks, and time spent working at the computer. Two linear mixed effects models were fitted to the data to estimate the change in NP.

Results
No clinically relevant change in the average NP intensity and neck disability was found between measurement time points. Each working hour at the computer increased NP intensity by 0.36 points (95% CI: 0.09 to 0.62) indicating strong evidence. No such effect was found for neck disability. Each work break taken reduced neck disability by 2.30 points (95% CI:  − 4.18 to  − 0.42, evidence). No such effect was found for NP intensity. There is very strong evidence that workstation ergonomics was poorer at home.

Conclusion
The number of work breaks and hours spent at the computer seem to have a greater effect on NP than the place of work (office, at home), measurement time point (before COVID-19, during lockdown) or the workstation ergonomics. Further research should investigate the effect of social and psychological factors.

KeywordsNeck pain; Neck disability; COVID-19; Pandemic; Working from home
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020420106. Physiotherapy
420604. Injury prevention
Byline AffiliationsZurich University of Applied Sciences, Switzerland
University of Queensland
University of Southern Denmark, Denmark
University of Basel, Switzerland
University of Zurich, Switzerland
University of Bern, Switzerland
University of Western Australia
Curtin University of Technology
NEXpro Collaboration Group
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