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Prävention und Intervention von Nackenschmerzen bei Büroangestellten in der Schweiz (NEXpro)

On-site multi-component intervention to improve productivity and reduce the economic and personal burden of neck pain in Swiss office-workers

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Background and Aims

Neck pain is among the most common musculoskeletal disorders worldwide. It poses a major burden on office workers, resulting in discomfort and decreased work productivity. Despite the expected growth of the service sector, the current literature does not offer a convincing approach to address this issue. Thus, the need to develop an effective intervention to reduce neck pain in the context of office work became evident. Given the substantial socio-economic consequences of neck pain (i.e., costs resulting from neck pain-related presenteeism), this emerged as the primary interest of our study.

Primary Aims:

  1. To optimise a validated Australian best practice intervention to Swiss office-workers
  2. To determine the effect of NEXpro on office-worker productivity

Secondary Aims:

  1. To evaluate the intervention's effectiveness in preventing and reducing neck pain in office workers (primary and secondary prevention)
  2. To improve intervention adherence in comparison to the Australian study
  3. To evaluate work stressors and resources in office workers


Between January 2020 and April 2021, we conducted a stepped-wedge cluster randomized controlled trial. A total of 120 office workers aged 18 to 65 years, and without severe neck problems were recruited from two Swiss organizations in the Canton of Zurich and Aargau. The 12-week multi-component intervention included neck exercises, health-promotion information workshops, and workplace ergonomics. Detailed information about the recruitment process, eligibility criteria, measurements, intervention, and statistical analysis can be found in our study protocol and primary outcome paper.

Conclusion Summary

In summary, we were able to confirm all three hypotheses, namely that the intervention improved productivity in office workers, reduced neck pain disability in office workers, and resulted in better intervention adherence and compliance than reported in the Australian study.

Key findings

We provide evidence for the effectiveness of a 12-week multi-component intervention in reducing neck pain-related work productivity loss, reducing neck pain, and improving quality of life among office workers. Specifically, office workers experienced neck pain less frequently, and when it did occur, it had a milder impact on their daily activities. Not only office workers benefit from reduced pain and disability and improved quality of life, but also employers and the (healthcare) system through decreased neck pain-associated costs (i.e., productivity loss).

Additional findings and COVID-19

We observed differences in intervention requirements and needs between Swiss companies and companies abroad. Adherence to intervention was higher in our study compared to the previous study conducted in Australia. The work stress conditions among our participants were similar to those of a representative Swiss sample across all occupational groups. The COVID-19 pandemic did not affect our sample in terms of physical activity level, neck pain, or work stress conditions. Improved working times or work-life balance may have contributed to this finding. Transfer to practise in the context of office work, we strongly recommend the implementation of our multi-component intervention to reduce the burden of neck pain. Within Switzerland, the multi-component intervention has already been promoted through various media appearances, including television and radio, and a video is planned for sharing on social media to reach patients, healthcare providers, and policymakers.

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