Methodological issues in evaluating workplace interventions to reduce work-related musculoskeletal disorders through mechanical exposure reduction
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Researchers of work-related musculoskeletal disorders are increasingly asked about the evidentiary base for mechanical exposure reductions. Mixed messages can arise from the different disciplinary cultures of evidence, and these mixed messages make different sets of findings incommensurate. Interventions also operate at different levels within workplaces and result in different intensities of mechanical exposure reduction. Heterogeneity in reporting intervention processes and in measuring relevant outcomes makes the synthesis of research reports difficult. As a means of synthesizing the current understanding of measures, this paper describes a set of intervention and observation nodes for which relevant workplace indicators prior to, during, and after mechanical exposure reduction can provide useful information. On the basis of this path of impacts from exposure reduction, an approach to the evaluation of multilevel ergonomic interventions is described that can assist fellow researchers in producing evidence relevant to the challenges faced by workplace parties and policy makers.
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