Occupational sitting: Practitioner perceptions of health risks, intervention strategies and influences
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Issue addressed: Workplace practitioners are well placed to provide practical insights on sedentary behaviour issues in the workplace. This study consulted occupational health and safety (OHS) practitioners, examining their perceptions of sedentary health risks and views on strategies and influences to reduce and break prolonged occupational sitting. Methods: Three focus groups were conducted with convenience samples of OHS practitioners (n=34; 6 men; 46.4±9.6 years) attending an Australian national conference in November 2010. Open-ended questions concerning health risks, sitting reduction strategies and influences were posed by lead researchers and practitioners invited to express opinions, viewpoints and experiences. Audio-recordings and summary notes of focus group discussions were reviewed by researchers to identify key response themes. Results: OHS practitioners were well informed about the chronic disease and musculoskeletal risks associated with prolonged occupational sitting, but noted the importance of not replacing one workplace health issue (too much sitting) with another (too much standing). Ideas for strategies were diverse and explored the dichotomy between providing choices for employees to stand and move more (e.g. sit-stand desks), as opposed to obligating change through adapting job and office design (e.g. centralising printers and scanners). Productivity concerns were cited as a major influence for change. OHS practitioners also highlighted the value of using cross-disciplinary expertise to bridge the gap between research and practice. Conclusions: This study identified that OHS practitioners in Australia have a good understanding of the risks of prolonged occupational sitting and potential strategies to manage these risks.
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