Content » Vol 49, Issue 7

Review article

Efficacy of workplace interventions for shoulder pain: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Veronique Lowry, Ariel Desjardins-Charbonneau, Jean-Sébastien Roy, Clermont E. Dionne, Pierre Frémont , Joy C. MacDermid, François Desmeules
Orthopaedic Unit, Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital, H3S 1S4 Montreal, Canada: E-mail:

DOI: 10.2340/16501977-2236


Objective: To perform a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials on the efficacy of workplace-based interventions to prevent or treat shoulder pain.
Data sources: A systematic review of 4 databases was performed up to January 2016.
Study selection: Randomized controlled trials were included if the intervention under study was a workplace-based intervention performed to prevent or reduce shoulder pain and disability in workers.
Data extraction: The methodological quality of the studies was evaluated and meta-analyses were conducted. Pooled mean differences and risk ratios were calculated.
Data synthesis: Data from 4 studies on strengthening exercises performed in the workplace for workers with shoulder pain (n = 368) were pooled. A statistically significant reduction in pain intensity was observed compared with different control interventions (mean differences (scale out of 10) 1.31 (95% confidence interval (95% CI) 0.86–1.76)). Pooled data from 5 studies on the efficacy of workstation modifications (n = 2,148) showed a statistically significant reduction in the prevalence of shoulder pain with a risk ratio of 1.88 (95% CI 1.20–2.96) compared with different control interventions.
Conclusion: Low-grade evidence exists that a workplace exercise programme may reduce the intensity of shoulder pain, and that workstation modifications may reduce the prevalence of shoulder pain.

Lay Abstract

Shoulder pain represents an important subgroup of work-related upper extremity disorders and incurs important health care costs as well as indirect costs from productivity loss and work absenteeism. We therefore performed a review of studies on the efficacy of workplace-based interventions to prevent or treat shoulder pain in workers. Strenghtening exercises in the workplace resulted in a significant reduction in pain intensity and workstation modifications showed a significant reduction in the prevalence of shoulder pain when compared to different control interventions. However, further studies comparing different exercise programs tailored to the worker’s tasks and specific ergonomic interventions on specific working populations are needed to draw firm conclusions on the effectiveness of workplace interventions for the prevention and reduction of shoulder pain and disability.


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