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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Richard Alan Graveling, BSc, MSc, PhD (Institute of Occupational Medicine)
Description: As the title suggests, this book provides an overview of work related musculoskeletal disorders of the upper limb and back. It is effectively a course text, with edited chapters by the contributors to a course on this topic.
Purpose: The aim of this book is to present an overview of the critical issues related to musculoskeletal disorders at work, bringing together the latest research in this field. As such, it provides a valuable summary of an important area of occupational health. Those already active in this field will recognize many of the contributors who collectively present a learned and comprehensive overview.
Audience: According to the cover, this book will be of interest to a wide range of professionals and researchers in ergonomics, occupational health, epidemiology, psychology, and engineering. It will also serve as an important source of information for policy makers! According to the preface, some course participants would have preferred a different, or more detailed, emphasis on specific topics, such as prevention strategies. In my opinion, as is inevitable with such a comprehensive overview in a slim (220-page) volume, it will appeal more to those seeking a general perspective than to those in search of specific detailed guidance.
Features: The authoritative tone of the book is set by the first chapter, providing a useful overview of methodological issues in epidemiology before a chapter on the available epidemiological evidence. This is valuable in providing an understanding of what can (and cannot) be deduced from different types of epidemiological study. As quoted from the preface, the book does perhaps have more of an emphasis on risk factors and their identification, rather than prevention, although this is not excluded. Included within this is the rehabilitation of those with problems and a brief summary of cost benefit analyses. Curiously, for a text originating from the European Union (although many of its contributors are from the U.S.), the chapter on regulatory issues makes no reference to the Directive on Display Screen Equipment. Indeed, little reference is made to office-oriented assessments and interventions. Similarly, although the EU Directive on Manual Handling is referred to, there is no presentation of the ergonomic assessment required in accordance with this legislation. Although this may seem parochial to non-EU readers, it is important as it provides a reasonably concise and comprehensive presentation of manual handling risk factors in a practical context.
Assessment: Despite this shortcoming, this attractively produced book undoubtedly achieves its intended purpose, providing a valuable synopsis of the current state of knowledge. It will be particularly useful to those new to the field wishing to rapidly assimilate an overview. It will also be of use, however, to those already working within one area wishing to familiarize themselves with the broader picture.