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Frequent short rest breaks from computer work: effects on productivity and well-being at two field sites
Henning RA, Jacques P, Kissel GV, Sullivan AB, Alteras-Webb SM
Ergonomics 1997;40(1):78-91
clinical trial
1/10 [Eligibility criteria: Yes; Random allocation: No; Concealed allocation: No; Baseline comparability: No; Blind subjects: No; Blind therapists: No; Blind assessors: No; Adequate follow-up: No; Intention-to-treat analysis: No; Between-group comparisons: Yes; Point estimates and variability: No. Note: Eligibility criteria item does not contribute to total score] *This score has been confirmed*

Computer operators at two work sites (n = 73, n = 19) were prompted to take three 30-s and one 3-min break from computer work each hour in addition to conventional rest breaks. Some operators were asked to perform stretching exercises during the short breaks. Mood state and musculoskeletal discomfort were assessed at each work site over a 2- or 3-week baseline period and a 4- or 6-week treatment period, respectively. Operator productivity measures were obtained from company records. Operators complied with about half of the added breaks but favoured 3-min breaks over 30-s breaks. No improvement in productivity or well-being was found at the larger work site. At the smaller work site, productivity, eye, leg and foot comfort all improved when the short breaks included stretching exercises. These results provide evidence that frequent short breaks from continuous computer-mediated work can benefit worker productivity and well-being when the breaks integrate with task demands.

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