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Work and musculoskeletal health

Guest Editor: Dr Bart Staal (Radboud University Medical Centre, The Netherlands)

Work is good for well-being and health. Apart from providing economic resources, work contributes to individual identity, social roles and social status, and thereby addresses important psychosocial needs (Waddell & Burton 2006). The downside of this is that poor work status or disability may be associated with important musculoskeletal conditions. According to traditional medical views, clinical interventions focus on the medical condition, whereas at the same time though, maybe unintentionally, the work context of the individual is ignored. For the majority of musculoskeletal conditions, however, participation in society and work is as important than just as reducing pain or symptoms. Many musculoskeletal conditions are chronic or recurrent and force people to cope with their problems in their daily life including work. Moreover, work may not only aggravate symptoms or disability, but may also have positive consequences. Being at work, either with modified duties, partially or fully functional, distract people from negative issues such as pain or symptoms (Staal et al. 2012).

In order to address the important contribution of work to musculoskeletal health it is crucial to integrate the work context in preventive or clinical interventions. The aim of this thematic series is to provide a forum to present research on the integration of clinical disease management within the context of work. We invite all types of submissions varying from epidemiological studies on the association between work and health to intervention studies, systematic reviews, quality improvement studies, clinimetric studies and qualitative studies.

To submit your manuscript, please use our online submission system at BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders. Please indicate in your cover letter that you would like the article to be considered for the ‘Work and musculoskeletal health’ special series.

If you would like to inquire about the suitability of a study for consideration, please email a presubmission enquiry to

Deadline for submission: 15 July 2019



Waddell G and Burton AK. Is work good for your health and well-being? The Stationary Office. London, UK. 2006

Staal JB, De Rijk A, Houkes I, Heymans MW. Chapter 20. Clinical interventions to reduce work disability in workers with musculoskeletal disorders or mental health problems. In: Handbook of Work Disability: Prevention and Management, Loisel P and Anema H (eds.), Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

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