Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, R01-OH-009253, 2013 Apr; :1-177
Issues: A participatory ergonomics process was initiated, the aim of which has been to work with imaging technologists (radiographers, mammographers, and sonographers (diagnostic medical sonographers, vascular technologists, and echocardiographers)) to develop interventions that will improve their work conditions and reduce their occupational exposure to risk factors for musculoskeletal discomfort and injury. Previous surveys and workplace assessments have been conducted that identify radiographers and sonographers as experiencing high rates of work-related musculoskeletal disorders. However, intervention research involving them is limited, mainly focusing on administrative controls. Engineering controls are preferred in the long run, because they are always in place to be used. In contrast, administrative controls and personal modifiers are almost always optional and may not be utilized when time pressure mounts or for other reasons. Therefore, the primary emphasis was development of engineering controls, although some administrative controls and personal modifiers were explored during the research process. Approach: The study design consisted of four phases and involvement of imaging technologists in each phase. Phase I: Needs assessment, concept ideation and review. Methods included, but were not limited to, various types of focus group sessions, discussions with clinic managers, brainstorming, and research team discussions. Phase 2: Product acquisition and prototype development. Phase 3: Intervention assessment. Potential users provided their assessments of usefulness, usability, desirability, and barriers to adoption, as well as suggestions for modifications. Researchers documented biomechanically-related changes, such as to work postures, duration or level of exerted force, etc. depending on the nature of the intervention. Assessments were conducted in lab or field settings, as appropriate and feasible. Seventy-four imaging technologists from the Central Ohio area participated in one or more study phases. Key findings: The methodology was successfully employed, generating extensive lists of documented needs (opportunities for intervention) for each of the five subspecialties, and subsequent extensive lists of preliminary intervention concepts: 66 for vascular, 44 for echo, 45 for DMS, 14 for x-ray, and 28 for mammography. These were reduced to 14 concept categories for DMS, 15 for echo, 15 for vascular, 17 for x-ray, and 14 for mammography. Utilizing comments, suggestions, and priority ratings from the imaging technologists through the concept review sessions, in conjunction with research team discussion, we developed an 'A' list of ten interventions to pursue in the time remaining in the study. Each of these were further developed and tested (lab or field setting) with potential users (imaging technologists and/or potential patients). All A-list intervention concepts were assessed favorably, and we believe this is due to the ongoing input from the imaging technologists. One of the prototype interventions is in current use. One is going through the FDA approval process. One is being further developed in anticipation of further testing and subsequent development into a marketable product. Importantly, several of the concepts have the potential to change the way certain protocols are performed, which could produce profound changes including MSD risk factor exposure reduction, in the affected subspecialties. Our goal is to identify design and manufacturing partners for each A-list concept.
Carolyn M. Sommerich, PhD, 1971 Neil Ave., Columbus, OH 43210