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Special Issue "Promotion of Healthy Work"

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Andreas Holtermann
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
The National Research Centre for the Working Environment, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark
Interests: occupational health; workplace interventions; physical activity paradox; sedentary behavior; workplace health promotion; 24-hour behavior approach; musculoskeletal pain; sickness absence; cardiovascular disease

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Promoting A longer healthy sustainable working life is paramount for the economy and welfare of our societies. However, there are many considerable challenges to A long healthy sustainable working life, such as a high prevalence of musculoskeletal pain, mental disorders, reduced functional ability, obesity, low fitness level, and fatigue.

The main preventive workplace approaches, such as reductions of biomechanical workload and stress-management programs, have not shown to be able to handle these main challenges. This can be because they are limited to the aim of reducing risk for disease, rather than the more ambitious aim of promoting employees’ health. Other workplace health-promoting approaches such as physical exercises and mental-health initiatives (e.g., mindfulness) have shown potential, but with limitations of being individual-oriented and requiring time away from the productive work. Thus, they often fail by not reaching employees who are most in need and in sustaining the initiatives over a longer time.

To handle these main challenges to promoting a longer healthy sustainable working life, we therefore need new workplace health-promoting approaches targeting the productive work of all employees. In other words, how can we design productive work promoting health for all? We have very little knowledge of how work should look like to promote health, and how interventions designing work to promote health should be developed, implemented, sustained, and evaluated to become effective.

Thus, for this Special Issue, we invite submissions filling the knowledge gap on how we should design work in various occupational groups so that it promotes health. Examples of research questions can be:

  • How does a productive working day promoting health look like?
  • Which combination of sitting, standing, and walking at work promotes health?
  • Can working tasks be modified so they provide beneficial physiological responses and adaptations?
  • How can we develop and implement changes in productive work to promote health?
  • Are workplace interventions aiming to design productive work promoting health feasible, effective, and sustainable?

Prof. Andreas Holtermann
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • workplace health promotion
  • sustainable work
  • healthy work for all
  • occupational health
  • workplace interventions
  • design of work to promote health
  • physical activity at work
  • sedentary work

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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Article
Confirmatory Factor Analysis and Validity of the Sexual Harassment Scale in Football Refereeing
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(4), 1374; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18041374 - 03 Feb 2021
Viewed by 1049
Abstract
Inequalities between men and women in the workplace are reflected in professional sports, specifically football refereeing. This phenomenon sometimes becomes sexual harassment since it is a stereotypically considered male profession in which women are a minority. To measure that behavior, it is necessary [...] Read more.
Inequalities between men and women in the workplace are reflected in professional sports, specifically football refereeing. This phenomenon sometimes becomes sexual harassment since it is a stereotypically considered male profession in which women are a minority. To measure that behavior, it is necessary to count on valid and reliable tools. Therefore, the goal of this study was to determine the factorial structure and the discriminant and convergent validity of the ‘sexual experiences questionnaire’, version of the Department of Defence (SEQ-DoD). Eighty-nine male football referees and ninety-four female football referees, with a mean age of 23.30 ± 4.85 years, participated in this studio conducted questionnaire in Andalusia, Spain. A confirmatory factor analysis was performed using the robust maximum-likelihood estimation method. The goodness of fit was assessed, and the factorial invariance was calculated to determine the stability of the model. Subsequently, the validity was confirmed. The results corroborated the validity and reliability of the questionnaire adapted to the population studied. Therefore, it can be used as a research instrument. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Promotion of Healthy Work)
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Article
Improvement of Workplace Environment That Affects Motivation of Japanese Dental Hygienists
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(3), 1309; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18031309 - 01 Feb 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1172
Abstract
Dental hygienists are in high demand due to insufficient workforce and a lack of an effective reinstatement support system. We investigated the reasons for willingness to work by analyzing the survey results of the employment status of Japanese dental hygienists conducted by Japan [...] Read more.
Dental hygienists are in high demand due to insufficient workforce and a lack of an effective reinstatement support system. We investigated the reasons for willingness to work by analyzing the survey results of the employment status of Japanese dental hygienists conducted by Japan Dental Hygienists’ Association. In total, we mailed 16,113 questionnaires to all members of the association (response rate 53.4%). We carried out statistical analysis to determine the specific items to improve the hygienists’ working environment. Fourteen factors of working conditions that they wish to improve were determined. Structural equation modeling showed that a path, “Reduction of work volume”, “Reduction of working hours” and “Increased number of holidays” were higher than other items. A decision analysis demonstrated that most of the respondents answered “Yes” to “Improvement in working conditions including higher salary” out of those who answered, “Strongly disagree” for “Do you feel that dental hygienist work is rewarding?”. Improving workplace environment is integral to keeping high levels of work motivation and a low turnover rate. Most of the hygienists wish for a salary raise among all the conditions. The transition from conventional work styles to non-conventional flexible working patterns is needed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Promotion of Healthy Work)
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Article
Can Childcare Work Be Designed to Promote High Intensity Physical Activity for Improved Fitness and Health? A Proof of Concept Study of the Goldilocks Principle
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(20), 7419; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17207419 - 12 Oct 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1062
Abstract
Childcare workers are reported to have high variation in physical activity during work hours, but also to sit for about half of the workday and have almost no high intensity physical activity (HIPA). No study has investigated if their work can be re-designed [...] Read more.
Childcare workers are reported to have high variation in physical activity during work hours, but also to sit for about half of the workday and have almost no high intensity physical activity (HIPA). No study has investigated if their work can be re-designed to introduce HIPA, thus promoting fitness and health according to the Goldilocks principle. This study investigated the feasibility of designing pedagogical games (‘Goldilocks-games’) intended to lead to more HIPA. Heart rate was measured in nineteen childcare workers during Goldilocks-games, and compared to measurements during a regular workday. Worker perceptions of feasibility, and researcher observations of contextual factors were also collected. The Goldilocks-games (33 min) elicited significantly more HIPA (18/33 min) compared to the most active period of equal length on a regular workday (0.5/33 min). Seventy-four-percent of the childcare workers reported that it was feasible to integrate the Goldilocks-games pedagogically, and seventy-two-percent could see themselves using them. Thus, we found it possible to re-design a work task in childcare according to the Goldilocks principle so that it leads to substantial time with HIPA. The sustainability of Goldilocks-games in childcare, and their effectiveness in improving fitness and health among childcare workers, needs to be tested in further studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Promotion of Healthy Work)
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Article
Seafarers’ Physical Activity and Sleep Patterns: Results from Asia-Pacific Sea Routes
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(19), 7266; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17197266 - 05 Oct 2020
Viewed by 921
Abstract
Prolonged ocean voyages constrain the regular physical activity and sleep patterns of seafarers. However, there is a lack of information on seafarers’ physical activity and sleep behavior. The purpose of this study was to systematically examine physical activity and sleep patterns among seafarers [...] Read more.
Prolonged ocean voyages constrain the regular physical activity and sleep patterns of seafarers. However, there is a lack of information on seafarers’ physical activity and sleep behavior. The purpose of this study was to systematically examine physical activity and sleep patterns among seafarers using a single wrist-worn accelerometer. Fifty-one senior maritime students (mean age = 22.8 years; 80.0% male) in a university navigation department participated in the study. Data were collected from participants on three sea voyages in the Asia-Pacific region. Indicators of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity (MVPA) and sleep patterns were compared between several conditions: (1) moored versus sailing, (2) on-navigation duty and off- navigation duty, and (3) day versus night navigation duty. Regardless of conditions, low levels of physical activity and short sleep durations were observed. Independent sample t-tests revealed that time spent doing MVPA was significantly higher when participants were off-duty than when they were on-duty (p < 0.001). Physical activity did not significantly differ between the other two conditions. While total sleep duration was not significantly different between mooring and sailing, the results showed that participants awakened more frequently (p = 0.007) and their sleep was more restless (p < 0.001) while sailing. The results demonstrated that developing effective programs to promote physical activity should be a public health priority for the seafaring population, and serious consideration is required to mitigate sleep disruption during sailing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Promotion of Healthy Work)
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Article
Adapting Citizen Science to Improve Health in an Occupational Setting: Preliminary Results of a Qualitative Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(14), 4917; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17144917 - 08 Jul 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 983
Abstract
Health interventions often do not reach blue-collar workers. Citizen science engages target groups in the design and execution of health interventions, but has not yet been applied in an occupational setting. This preliminary study determines barriers and facilitators and feasible elements for citizen [...] Read more.
Health interventions often do not reach blue-collar workers. Citizen science engages target groups in the design and execution of health interventions, but has not yet been applied in an occupational setting. This preliminary study determines barriers and facilitators and feasible elements for citizen science to improve the health of blue-collar workers. The study was conducted in a terminal and construction company by performing semi-structured interviews and focus groups with employees, company management and experts. Interviews and focus groups were analyzed using thematic content analysis and the elements were pilot tested. Workers considered work pressure, work location and several personal factors as barriers for citizen science at the worksite, and (lack of) social support and (negative) social culture both as barriers and facilitators. Citizen science to improve health at the worksite may include three elements: (1) knowledge and skills, (2) social support and social culture, and (3) awareness about lifestyle behaviors. Strategies to implement these elements may be company specific. This study provides relevant indications on feasible elements and strategies for citizen science to improve health at the worksite. Further studies on the feasibility of citizen science in other settings, including a larger and more heterogeneous sample of blue-collar workers, are necessary. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Promotion of Healthy Work)
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Article
Effects of Using Immersive Media on the Effectiveness of Training to Prevent Ergonomics Risks
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(7), 2592; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17072592 - 10 Apr 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1312
Abstract
In this work, the effects of using immersive media such as virtual reality on the performance of training programs to avoid ergonomics risks are analyzed. The advance of technology has made it possible to use low-cost portable devices able to generate highly immersive [...] Read more.
In this work, the effects of using immersive media such as virtual reality on the performance of training programs to avoid ergonomics risks are analyzed. The advance of technology has made it possible to use low-cost portable devices able to generate highly immersive experiences in training programs. The effects of using this kind of device in training programs have been studied in several fields such as industrial security, medicine and surgery, rehabilitation, or construction. However, there is very little research on the effects of using immersive media in training workers to avoid ergonomics risk factors. In this study, we compare the effects of using traditional and immersive media in a training program to avoid three common ergonomics risk factors in industrial environments. Our results showed that using immersive media increases the participant’s engagement during the training. In the same way, the learning contents are perceived as more interesting and useful and are better remembered over time, leading to an increased perception of the ergonomics risks among workers. However, we found that little training was finally transferred to the workplace three months after the training session. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Promotion of Healthy Work)
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Article
Standing Meetings Are Feasible and Effective in Reducing Sitting Time among Office Workers—Walking Meetings Are Not: Mixed-Methods Results on the Feasibility and Effectiveness of Active Meetings Based on Data from the “Take a Stand!” Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(5), 1713; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17051713 - 05 Mar 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1305
Abstract
Active meetings (standing or walking) have the potential to reduce sitting time among office workers. The aim of the present study was to explore the feasibility and effectiveness of standing and walking meetings. The “Take a Stand!” study was a cluster-randomized trial, consisting [...] Read more.
Active meetings (standing or walking) have the potential to reduce sitting time among office workers. The aim of the present study was to explore the feasibility and effectiveness of standing and walking meetings. The “Take a Stand!” study was a cluster-randomized trial, consisting of multiple components including the possibility of active meetings. Analyses were based on the 173 participants in the intervention group. Feasibility was evaluated by questionnaire and interview data from participants, ambassadors and leaders. Effectiveness was assessed as the change in objectively measured sitting time from baseline to 3 months follow-up. Regular standing meetings were implemented at all offices and were generally popular, as they were perceived as more effective and focused. In contrast, only a few walking meetings were completed, and these were generally associated with several barriers and perceived as ineffective. Participants who participated in standing meetings on a regular basis had 59 min less sitting per 8 h workday (95%CI −101;−17) compared to participants who did not participate in standing meetings at all. Walking meeting participation was not significantly associated with changes in sitting time, likely due to the low number of employees who used this option. This explorative study concludes that standing meetings in office workplaces were feasible and well-liked by the employees, and having frequent standing meetings was associated with reduced sitting time. In contrast, walking meetings were unfeasible and less liked, and thus had no effect on sitting time. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Promotion of Healthy Work)
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Article
Designing Cyclic Job Rotations to Reduce the Exposure to Ergonomics Risk Factors
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(3), 1073; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17031073 - 08 Feb 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1122
Abstract
Job rotation is an administrative solution to prevent work-related musculoskeletal disorders that has become widespread. However, job rotation schedules development is a complex problem. This is due to the multi-factorial character of the disorders and to the productive and organizational constraints of the [...] Read more.
Job rotation is an administrative solution to prevent work-related musculoskeletal disorders that has become widespread. However, job rotation schedules development is a complex problem. This is due to the multi-factorial character of the disorders and to the productive and organizational constraints of the real working environments. To avoid these problems, this work presents an evolutionary algorithm to generate rotation schedules in which a set of workers rotate cyclically over a small number of jobs while reducing the potential for injury. The algorithm is able to generate rotation schedules that optimize multiple ergonomics criteria by clustering the tasks into rotation groups, selecting the workers for each group, and determining the sequence of rotation of the workers to minimize the effects of fatigue. The algorithm reduces prolonged exposure to risks related to musculoskeletal injuries and simplifies the assignment of workers to different tasks in each rotation. The presented procedure can be an effective tool for the design of job-rotation schedules that prevent work-related musculoskeletal disorders while simplifying scheduled changeovers at each rotation and facilitating job monitoring. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Promotion of Healthy Work)
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Article
A Game-Theory Method to Design Job Rotation Schedules to Prevent Musculoskeletal Disorders Based on Workers’ Preferences and Competencies
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(23), 4666; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16234666 - 22 Nov 2019
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1478
Abstract
Job rotation is an organizational strategy based on the systematic exchange of workers between jobs in a planned manner according to specific criteria. This study presents the GS-Rot method, a method based on Game Theory, in order to design job rotation schedules by [...] Read more.
Job rotation is an organizational strategy based on the systematic exchange of workers between jobs in a planned manner according to specific criteria. This study presents the GS-Rot method, a method based on Game Theory, in order to design job rotation schedules by considering not only workers’ job preferences, but also the competencies required for different jobs. With this approach, we promote workers’ active participation in the design of the rotation plan. It also let us deal with restrictions in assigning workers to job positions according to their disabilities (temporal or permanent). The GS-Rot method has been implemented online and applied to a case in a work environment characterized by the presence of a high repetition of movements, which is a significant risk factor associated with work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs). A total of 17 workstations and 17 workers were involved in the rotation, four of them with physical/psychological limitations. Feasible job rotation schedules were obtained in a short time (average time 27.4 milliseconds). The results indicate that in the rotations driven by preference priorities, almost all the workers (94.11%) were assigned to one of their top five preferences. Likewise, 48.52% of job positions were assigned to workers in their top five of their competence lists. When jobs were assigned according to competence, 58.82% of workers got an assignment among their top five competence lists. Furthermore, 55.87% of the workers achieved jobs in their top five preferences. In both rotation scenarios, the workers varied performed jobs, and fatigue accumulation was balanced among them. The GS-Rot method achieved feasible and uniform solutions regarding the workers’ exposure to job repetitiveness. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Promotion of Healthy Work)
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Review

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Review
Aging at Work: A Review of Recent Trends and Future Directions
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(20), 7659; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17207659 - 20 Oct 2020
Viewed by 1112
Abstract
Demographic data suggest a rapid aging trend in the active workforce. The concept of aging at work comes from the urgent requirement to help the aging workforce of the contemporary industries to maintain productivity while achieving a work and private life balance. While [...] Read more.
Demographic data suggest a rapid aging trend in the active workforce. The concept of aging at work comes from the urgent requirement to help the aging workforce of the contemporary industries to maintain productivity while achieving a work and private life balance. While there is plenty of research focusing on the aging population, current research activities on policies covering the concept of aging at work are limited and conceptually different. This paper aims to review publications on aging at work, which could lead to the creation of a framework that targets governmental decision-makers, the non-governmental sector, the private sector, and all of those who are responsible for the formulation of policies on aging at work. In August 2019 we searched for peer-reviewed articles in English that were indexed in PubMed, IEEE Xplore, and Springer and published between 2008 and 2019. The keywords included the following phrases: “successful aging at work”, “active aging at work”, “healthy aging at work”, “productive aging at work”, and “older adults at work”. A total of 47,330 publications were found through database searching, and 25,187 publications were screened. Afterwards, 7756 screened publications were excluded from the further analysis, and a total of 17,431 article abstracts were evaluated for inclusion. Finally, further qualitative analysis included 1375 articles, of which about 24 are discussed in this article. The most prominent works suggest policies that encourage life-long learning, and a workforce that comprises both younger and older workers, as well as gradual retirement. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Promotion of Healthy Work)
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