Pain in the Neck: Factors to Reduce Monetary Loss due to Present-But-Unwell Workers
Working when one is unwell can result in reduced productivity and negative health consequences. Yet all around the world, people find themselves working long hours or working through illnesses. When this is done for performative reasons, that is, to appear more hard-working and dedicated to one’s bosses, it is called ‘presenteeism.’ Presenteeism has serious monetary consequences. One of the main causes of presenteeism is neck pain, which is a common and serious health issue among office workers. Now, researchers from Kyoto University ask if using a tailored web-based healthcare application for chronic neck pain can address monetary loss due to presenteeism.
Web-apps for physical and mental healthcare are growing in popularity owing to their ease-of-access, improved availability, and remote consultation features. This study focused on the Pocket-Therapist app by BackTech Inc., Kyoto, Japan, which aims to connect people experiencing musculoskeletal symptoms with physical therapists and occupational therapists. For their work, the research team used a single-arm pre-post comparison study, meaning that all the participants of the study were given the same treatment (the Pocket-Therapist app) and that their symptoms before and after the study period were evaluated.
The team analyzed app usage data in 86 patients over a course of 12 weeks and found that monetary loss due to presenteeism decreased due to app usage. Moreover, workers who used the app also experienced lower risk of depression and improved physical symptoms. Significantly, decrease in neck pain intensity and increase in app usage were associated with lower presenteeism-induced monetary loss. However, owing to the single-arm nature of the study, there was no comparison group against which the results could be checked, thus making it impossible to conclude if the reduction in neck pain was due to app usage alone. Future studies including multiple trial groups will help advance the research.
This is the first study to reveal that reduction in neck pain intensity and frequency of web-app use are factors in reducing monetary loss due to presenteeism.
Link to the original journal article:
Factors for reducing monetary loss due to presenteeism using a tailored healthcare web-application among office workers with chronic neck pain: a single-arm pre-post comparison study
Yu Odake, Naoto Fukutani, Kanako Shimoura, Tappei Morino, Natsuki Matsumura, Niu Qian, Yuki Shinohara, Kohei Mukaiyama, Momoko Nagai-Tanima, Tomoki Aoyama*
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