From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Workplace Stress and MSDs: Current Thinking and Future Research

Press Release

GEORGETOWN, DC and Yarmouthport, Mass., July 10, 2002. Selected papers from the recently held Georgetown Symposium on Biobehavioral Mechanisms of Work-Related Upper Extremity Disorders have been published in a special edition of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Vol. 41, No. 5 (May
2002). This symposium was held to improve the understanding of potential mechanisms by which stress causes or exacerbates musculoskeletal problems, to identify future areas for research, and to discuss the implications of stress on workplace ergonomic interventions.

“This symposium was the most comprehensive effort to date to delineate biobehavioral models linking psychosocial factors to work-related upper extremity disorders,” said symposium chair Michael Feuerstein, PhD, MPH of the Georgetown University Medical School and Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, MD. He added, “the participants hypothesized the effects that stress has on the endocrine, immune and nervous systems and ultimately on peripheral nerves, tendons and muscles. Also identified were specific
epidemiological and biobehavioral pathways research needs.” American, Canadian and European researchers and clinicians from many scientific and medical disciplines attended this symposium held on November 6-7 2001 in Washington, DC. Topics included: job stress models; epidemiological foundations; musculoskeletal and biomechanical models; central nervous system models of persistent clinical pain; psychophysiology of work; and implications for intervention.

“By bringing together a unique, interdisciplinary group of researchers, Dr. Feuerstein has succeeded in presenting a fresh perspective on a significant health issue. By clearly delineating priorities and opportunities for future research and offering suggestions for clinical practice, this issue provides a major contribution to occupational health knowledge. We are pleased to have the opportunity to contribute to this most worthwhile effort,” said Dr. Glenn Pransky of the Liberty Mutual Research Center for Safety and Health. Liberty Mutual and the OERC jointly funded this special journal edition.

The Office Ergonomics Research Committee (OERC), a non-profit research organization, sponsored the Georgetown Symposium. The OERC was founded in 1991 by a group of U.S. companies concerned by reports of increasing upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders among office workers. The OERC seeks to understand the association between office work and musculoskeletal problems and to communicate its findings on their possible causes and methods of intervention.

For more information on the symposium contact Dr. Feuerstein: 301-651-7346, 301-295-9677or For more information about the OERC visit or contact Bob Bettendorf: 508-362-6231 or To order the publication contact Wiley-Liss, 212 850-8776 and ask for ISSN 0271-3586.