From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

In the News

All Computer Work and No Play Makes Jack Call In Sick

Sitting in front of a computer screen for more than five hours a day might give workers more than just eye strain, headaches and stiff shoulders — it might also make them reluctant to go to work, according to a recent study by Japanese researchers and reported in the October, 2002 issue of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.

The goal of the study was to see how long was too long to be working at computer terminals.  Headed by Chiba University’s Dr. Tetsuya Nakazawa, the study’s 25,000 office worker subjects complained of both physical and mental problems.

Symptoms reported by subjects also included insomnia, fatigue, lethargy and anxiety. “This result suggested that the effect of duration of daily VDT use on these scores has a threshold effect, and the prevention of mental disorder and sleep disorder requires the restriction of VDT use to less than five hours per day,” the researchers stated in their findings.

Marriage Can Cause Pain

German psychologists have confirmed a relationship that some sufferers of back pain have probably known all along — that the mere presence of a spouse could be adding to the problem.

Reported earlier this month at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience by the study’s lead author, Herta Flor from the University of Heidelberg, the study showed the correlation between an overly-attentive spouse and the amount of back pain in patients with chronic back pain.

For the research, brain activity in response to painful electric stimulation was measured for 20 patients of chronic back pain. Ten of the patients had doting spouses who rapidly attended to the patient’s complaints of chronic back pain by means like massage or waiting on the patient.  The other ten subjects had spouses who played down the pain either through other distractions or by leaving the room.

The study found that the brain activity increased in response to the electric stimulation when the doting spouses entered the room; however, the presence of the non-doting spouse had no effect on the pain-responsive brain activity.

“It’s as if the spouse has become a stimulating cue for the pain,” Flor said in an article. To combat the pain, Flor recommended doting spouses try redirecting the pain sufferer’s attention instead.

This article originally appeared in The Ergonomics Report™ on 2002-11-01.