Workplace interventions to improve work ability

A systematic review and meta-analysis of their effectiveness
Objective: Extended working lives due to an ageing population will necessitate the maintenance of work ability across the life course. This systematic review aimed to analyze whether workplace interventions positively
impact work ability.
Methods: We searched Medline, PsycINFO, CINAHL and Embase databases using relevant terms. Work-based interventions were those focused on individuals, the workplace, or multilevel (combination). Work ability – measured using the work ability index (WAI) or the single-item work ability score (WAS) – was the outcome measure. GRADE (grades of recommendation, assessment, development and evaluation) criteria was used to assess evidence quality, and impact statements were developed to synthesize the results. Meta-analysis was undertaken where appropriate.
Results: We reviewed 17 randomized control trials (comprising 22 articles). Multilevel interventions (N=5) included changes to work arrangements and liaisons with supervisors, whilst individual-focused interventions
(N=12) involved behavior change or exercise programs. We identified only evidence of a moderate quality for either individual or multilevel interventions aiming to improve work ability. The meta-analysis of 13 studies
found a small positive significant effect for interventions on work ability [overall pooled mean 0.12, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.03–0.21] with no heterogeneity for the effect size (Chi2=11.28, P=0.51; I2=0%).
Conclusions: The meta-analysis showed a small positive effect, suggesting that workplace interventions might improve work ability. However, the quality of the evidence base was only moderate, precluding any firm conclusion. Further high quality studies are require to establish the role of interventions on work ability.

Source: Oakman, J., Neupane, S., Proper, K. I., Kinsman, N., & Nygård, C. H. (2017). Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health.

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