Workplace cohort studies in times of economic instability

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BackgroundA prospective study directed to musculoskeletal health in the manufacturing workforce.MethodsA 36-month longitudinal study using mixed method; surveys with work and non-work psychosocial variables, physiologic measurements physical performance, interviews and focus groups, and direct observation of work activity.ResultsChanging economic conditions introduced barriers requiring recruiting a larger number of study sites. Study adherence was unexpectedly high. Coincident with their economic concerns, participants perceived an increase in workplace stress, but not physical demand. New instruments were added to assess economic effects on retirement planning and the physical and emotional costs of caregiving responsibilities.ConclusionsThe economic conditions required adaptive alterations in design due to workforce volatility but presented opportunities for studying the link between working conditions and health. Nevertheless, study size expectations were met through an adaptive approach that suggests a potential effect of the economy on health and well-being. Am. J. Ind. Med. 58:138–151, 2015. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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