Friday, August 6, 2010

being a participant in the PROOF study

In the Netherlands, approximately half of the working population works regularly with a computer. This concerns over 3 million people. Pain in the neck, shoulders, arms and/or hands, referred to as musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), are still very common in this group and the size of this group is not decreasing. Previous research has shown that psychosocial work environment and computer use play a role in the development of MSDs. However, through what mechanisms is not known. The purpose of the so-called PROOF study (INTERACTIONS OF BIOMECHANICS AND PSYCHOSOCIAL STRESSORS IN RELATION TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF MSDs IN THE MODERN OFFICE)  is to get better insight in the development of MSDs by exploring the role of psychosocial work environment and computer use. We hope that the results will contribute to the prevention of MSDs in the future. The PROOF study is conducted by Linda Eijckelhof, MSc at the EMGO Institute for Health and Care research. The study is a collaboration with the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and is supervised by Professor Allard van der Beek here at EMGO+.

In this study, 120 office workers will be categorized in one of four defined profiles of psychosocial work environment, based on the amount of “reward” one receives at work and their reported level of “overcommitment” (both collected through a questionnaire). Biomechanical exposures (i.e. forces on keyboard and mouse, postural dynamics, and EMG of neck-shoulder muscles and wrist extensors) and computer usage will be measured for two hours during a workday at participants’ own work stations. These biomechanical factors will be compared across the four psychosocial profiles.

With these data a task-based exposure model will be developed to estimate the biomechanical exposures within different psychosocial work environments adjusted for individual factors. This model will be applied to a cohort of about 1000 office workers, of whom computer usage was assessed objectively and health outcome was self-reported in a two-year longitudinal study (PROMO). In this way, we will be able to relate biomechanical exposure to the development of MSDs measured in a large epidemiological study.
Yesterday I participated as one of the research subjects. Being researched instead of being a researcher for a change...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The 2009 annual report of EMGO+ is out

Two weeks ago we send out the 2009 annual report of the EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research (EMGO+). A pdf of the annual report can be accessed via this link. This 2009 report is the first annual evaluation after EMGO became EMGO+. On January 1 the old EMGO Institute of the VU University Medical Center, merged with strong research groups of the VU University faculties of Psychology & Education and of Earth & Life Sciences to conduct excellent research in public and occupational health, primary care, rehabilitation and long-term care.More specifically, by fulfilling its mission EMGO+ is aiming to contribute to improving evidence based:
  • public and occupational health;
  • primary health care;
  • mental health care;
  • rehabilitation practice;
  • long-term health and health care.
The 2009 annual report shows that the institutes 2009 output in terms of publications, doctorol theses and acquired research funding is stronger than the sum of the 2008 outputs of the groups that merged to form EMGO+.

School-based fruit and vegetable promotion may have beneficial effects on unhealthy snacking

A study recently published in the Journal of Human Nutrition & Dietetics suggests that a Dutch school-based program to promote fruits and vegetable intakes among primary schoolchildren may have beneficial effects on top of an increased intake of fruits and vegetables.
Ample fruit and vegetable (F&V) intake has been associated with a decreased risk of chronic disease. If  increased F&V consumption would also lead to a lower intake of unhealthy, high calorie snacks, the positive effects of F&V promotion would even be better. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate whether a primary school-based intervention (the Dutch Schoolgruiten Project) that promoted F&V intake could additionally reduce the intake of unhealthy, high calorie snacks during school breaks.
The study applied a longitudinal design with baseline and two follow-up measurements. Children were aged 9–10 years; 705 children participated in the study. The main strategy to promote F&V's was a 'school fruit scheme, i.e. free provision of FYV in the school classes to improve the availability, accessibility and exposure to F&V at school. The effects of the intervention on F&V intakes was reported in an earlier publication in Public Health Nutrition. The children in the intervention schools brought F&V from home to school at follow-up significantly more often than children in comparison schools where no F&V scheme was implemented. The kids in the intervention schools also brought fewer unhealthy snacks to school for conusmption during school breaks. This study provides therefore some evidence that the Schoolgruiten intervention effect on F&V intake also reduced unhealthy snacking during school breaks.