International Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

International Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
Open Access

ISSN: 2329-9096

+44 1300 500008


Reduced Sickness Absence after a Physical Activity Intervention among Health Care Workers: One-Year Follow-Up of a Randomised Controlled Trial

Lotte Nygaard Andersen, Birgit Juul-Kristensen, Thomas Lund Sorensen, Lene Gram Herborg, Kirsten Kaya Roessler and Karen Sogaard

Background: Health care workers frequently suffer from complaints of musculoskeletal disorders and they are prone to long-term sick leave, as their work involves considerable physical demands. Objective: To follow-up and evaluate longer term effects measured one year after baseline of “Tailored Physical Activity” (TPA) versus a reference group (REF) in reducing number of self-reported sickness absence days for health care workers. Methods: In this randomised controlled trial, health care workers (n=54) with musculoskeletal pain in the back or upper body were included and randomised to TPA or REF. All participants participated in individual health counselling (1.5 hours). TPA consisted of both aerobic fitness training and strengthening exercises (three times 50- minute/week during 10 weeks). REF received only health guidance. At baseline and after the intervention period the participants were assessed with a questionnaire and health-related measures. Results: In the longer term, the TPA showed a significant effect compared to REF in the ability to reduce sickness absence related to troubles in the musculoskeletal system. In TPA 81.5% reported no sickness absence within the last three months compared to 59.3% in REF. Significant improvements were also seen for kinesiophobia (p<0.01) and pain (p<0.01) from baseline to follow-up. Conclusion: Results indicate that physical activity interventions can encourage health care workers to be more active and achieve improvements in kinesiophobia and pain intensity, thereby preventing sickness absence.