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University students' notebook computer use: lessons learned using e-diaries to report musculoskeletal discomfort.
Jacobs K; Foley G; Punnett L; Hall V; Gore R; Brownson E; Ansong E; Markowitz J; McKinnon M; Steinberg S; Ing A; Wuest E; Dibiccari L
Ergonomics 2011 Feb; 54(2):206-219
The objective of this pilot study was to identify if notebook accessories (ergonomic chair, desktop monitor and notebook riser) combined with a wireless keyboard, mouse and participatory ergonomics training would have the greatest impact on reducing self-reported upper extremity musculoskeletal discomfort in university students. In addition to pre-post computing and health surveys, the Ecological Momentary Assessment was used to capture change in discomfort over time using a personal digital assistant (PDA) as the e-diary. The PDA was programmed with a survey containing 45 questions. Four groups of university students were randomised to either intervention (three external computer accessories) or to control. Participants reported less discomfort with the ergonomic chair and notebook riser based on the pre-post survey data and the e-diary/PDA ANOVA analysis. However, the PDA data, adjusted for the effect of hours per day of computer use, showed no benefit of the chair and limited benefit from the riser. Statement of Relevance: University students' use of notebook computers has increased. This study found evidence of a positive effect of an adjustable chair or notebook riser when combined with ergonomic training on reducing discomfort. Daily notebook computer use of 4 hr was confirmed as a risk factor. Without some form of ergonomic intervention, these students are likely to enter the workforce with poor computing habits, which places them on the road to future injuries as technology continues to play a dominant role in their lives.
Ergonomics; Musculoskeletal-system-disorders; Computers; Computer-equipment; Computer-software; Recording-systems; Education; Electronic-devices; Training; Extremities; Cumulative-trauma; Health-surveys; Ecological-systems; Information-retrieval-systems; Data-processing; Risk-factors; Injury-prevention; Equipment-design; Office-furniture; Human-factors-engineering; Author Keywords: human-computer interaction; musculoskeletal; office ergonomics; participative ergonomics
K. Jacobs, Boston University Sargent College, Department of Occupational Therapy, Boston, MA, 02118, USA
Issue of Publication
Harvard School of Public Health
Page last reviewed: March 18, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division