The effects of an intervention on postural behavior among elementary schoolchildren


Geldhof Elisabeth, Cardon Greet, De Bourdeaudhuij Ilse, De Clercq Dirk


Department of Movement and Sports Sciences, Ghent University, Watersportlaan 2, 9000 Ghent, Belgium



Sitting posture has often been discussed with respect to the onset of back pain and is found to be associated with back pain, in adults as well as in children and adolescents (Watson et al, 2003; Balagué et al., 1999; Sjölie and Ljunggren, 2001).


This study portrays postural behavior among 8 to12 year olds in elementary classrooms in Flanders and relates the outcomes to self reported back or neck pain. Mainly, the present intervention study investigates whether the promotion of ergonomic sitting is effective among young children. The intervention formed part of an extensive intervention on good body mechanics that consisted of a back education program, implementation of four ergonomic tools in each class and guidelines for the class teachers breaking up with prolonged static sitting.


The study had a quasi-experimental design with eight control and eight intervention schools, randomly selected. Out of 41 classes ad random two or three children were filmed in the way that 105 children were observed pre (September 2003) and post intervention (June 2004), making use of the Portable Ergonomic Observation method (PEO) (Murphy and Buckle, 2003).


At baseline pupils sat statically during 85% (± 12) of the time, while during 28% (± 25) the trunk was bend over 45°. During 9% (± 7) of the time children were sitting dynamically and during 36% (± 28) children used their back rest. Walking around was observed during 2% (±2) of the lesson time.


The present intervention study is the first in the field promoting good body mechanics including ergonomic sitting in elementary schoolchildren for a period of two school years. The effects of the intervention on sitting behavior and on self reported back or neck pain will be presented at the BBS meeting. Input and analysis of the PEO and questionnaire data are in progress.


Keywords: sitting posture, schoolchildren, ergonomic observation, intervention.