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Abstract

Objective

Ergonomic assessment and recommendations may help people with arthritis maintain employment; however, most ergonomic tools are designed to assess injury risk in the general population and are not specific to the needs of people with inflammatory arthritis (IA). Our objectives were to design and pilot test an ergonomic assessment tool for people with IA and to propose ergonomic modifications to prevent work loss and maintain at-work productivity.

Methods

Relevant content was identified in a literature review by an interdisciplinary team. Respecting some clients' reluctance to disclose arthritis to employers, no work site visit was required. An initial assessment tool was reviewed by a 4-person expert panel, revised and pretested with 13 adults with IA by 3 occupational therapists (OTs). The final tool, comprised of a self-assessment, an interview guide, and a solutions summary, was used in a pilot test of a multifaceted program designed to prevent work loss and maintain at-work productivity. One OT conducted all ergonomic consultations and followed up with phone calls at 1 month. Implementation of recommendations was evaluated at 3, 6, and 12 months.

Results

Nineteen women (mean age 51 years) with IA (mean disease duration 12 years) completed ergonomic assessments. A range of risks were identified and 87 recommendations were made (mean 4.5 per participant). At 1 year, 85% of recommendations had been implemented by 74% of the participants.

Conclusion

The Ergonomic Assessment Tool for Arthritis is a feasible and comprehensive process for identifying ergonomic job accommodations.