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Health Outcomes | Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders (WMSDs) Evaluation Measures

Health outcomes measures for WMSD prevention1-3

The effectiveness of WMSD prevention programs often depends on the intensity of program effort and the use of multiple interventions. For most health conditions, a rule of thumb is that the more programs implemented together as a package or campaign, the more successful the interventions will be.

Baseline

  • Determine levels of employee-reported WMSDs from employee health survey, health risk appraisal, or injury reports. Examples include:
    • Gather data to identify jobs or work conditions that are most problematic, using sources such as injury and illness logs, medical records, and job analyses
    • Determine the baseline percentage of employees with work exposures that increase the risk of WMSDs (e.g., repetitive motions, awkward postures)
    • Look for signs of a potential WMSD in the workplace, such as frequent worker reports of aches and pains or tasks requiring repetitive forceful exertions
    • Assess reports of decreasing focus on work assignments during late shifts or overtime
    • Note: For estimating the population prevalence of arthritis, the CDC Arthritis Program recommends using self-reported data as the data source and using doctor-diagnosed arthritis as the case definition. Survey questions related to arthritis in state and national self-reported surveys can be found on the CDC Arthritis Program website
  • Determine levels of diagnostic and treatment procedures related to WMSDs from health care and pharmaceutical claims data
  • Determine employee knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about WMSDs◦Measure employees’ knowledge of workplace ergonomics
    • Assess employee awareness of existing workplace ergonomic and WMSD programs, policies and benefits
    • Assess management attitudes regarding the importance of early detection and treatment of WMSDs for preventing impairment and disability

Process

  • Periodic repeats of baseline measures
  • Analyze data on potential WMSDs risk environments and implement worksite risk reduction programs (see organizational change)

Outcome

  • Assess changes in percentage of employees reporting WMSDs◦Assess changes in percentage of employees with work exposures that increase the risk of WMSDs (e.g., repetitive motions, awkward postures)
    • Assess reductions in WMSD reports after reducing environment risks and compare with baseline
  • Determine changes in levels of diagnostic and treatment procedures related to WMSD from health care and pharmaceutical claims data
    • Note that these data can be dramatically skewed by a few costly cases (e.g., newly diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis is generally far more costly to treat than many cases of osteoarthritis or gout)
  • Assess changes in employee knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about WMSDs
    • Measure changes in employees’ knowledge of workplace ergonomics
    • Assess changes in employee awareness of existing workplace ergonomic and WMSD programs, policies and benefits
    • Assess changes in management attitudes regarding the importance of early detection and treatment of WMSDs for preventing impairment and disability

References

1.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Framework for program evaluation in public health. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 1999;48(No. RR-11): 1-40.

2.  Goetzel RZ, Ozminkowski RJ. Program evaluation. In: O’Donnell MP, editor. Health promotion in the workplace, 3rd edition. Albany, NY: Delmar Thomson Learning; 2002. p 116-165.

3.  Weeks JL, Levy BS, Wagner GR, editors. Preventing occupational disease and injury. 2nd ed. Washington DC: American Public Health Association; 2005.

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