Our research


Our research is dedicated to helping employees with chronic musculoskeletal disorders (CMSDs) – conditions that cause long-term pain and disability – navigate their challenges in the workplace. We've discovered that there's a significant gap in awareness and understanding of CMSDs at work. Both managers and older workers need more training and education to handle these conditions effectively.

Chronic musculoskeletal disorders are a major global concern, as they are the leading cause of persistent pain and disability. This not only affects individuals but also has a broader impact on society. Our studies have delved into how CMSDs influence sick leave, the tendency to work while unwell (known as presenteeism), and the use of personal time off to manage health issues (a phenomenon called leaveism). We've found that when employees don't openly discuss their CMSDs, they may face unfair judgments about their work capabilities.

A key focus of our work is the health of our ageing workforce, especially as the UK government raises the age for receiving a pension. The workforce is becoming more diverse, with more older employees and women joining. However, this diversity brings challenges, particularly when political reforms don't align with the needs of these workers. For instance, our research shows that family caregiving responsibilities can significantly impact the health and personal lives of older employees, especially women. These insights are crucial for shaping both government and workplace policies. 

The employment rate of those aged 65 and above has doubled over the past quarter of a century. As people live and work longer, comorbidities, particularly for those over 50 with a CMSD, become more prevalent. It's not uncommon for those over 60 to be managing at least three chronic conditions simultaneously. This complex health landscape underscores the importance of our research.

The recent shift to remote work has introduced new challenges. A significant portion of the global workforce transitioned to working from home, where many lack a dedicated workspace. This has led to increased musculoskeletal issues. Non-ergonomic furniture, prolonged sitting, and lack of regular breaks all contribute to discomfort. While younger workers might adapt more easily to remote work, older generations often face challenges related to technology, ergonomics, and isolation.

Recognising these challenges, we initiated the JOINTWORKS project. This project aims to create solutions for sustainable employability, focusing on the unique needs of older employees with CMSDs. We invite individuals, organisations, and stakeholders to collaborate with us and support our vision. Together, we can develop strategies and interventions that not only address current workplace challenges but also anticipate future needs.

We recognize the need for older employees with CMSDs to have access to detailed information on maintaining their musculoskeletal health. This information should empower them, boost their confidence, and help integrate healthy choices into their daily lives. Our research and the JOINTWORKS project are steps towards a future where every employee, regardless of age or health condition, can work comfortably and productively.

Join us in this endeavour to support our aging workforce and promote a healthier, more inclusive work environment.