Towards a preventive strategy for complaints of arm, neck and/or shoulder (CANS): the role of help seeking behaviour

Vivian E.J. Bruls*, Nicole W. H. Jansen, Rob A. de Bie, Caroline Heuts - Bastiaenen, IJmert Kant

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Web of Science)


Background: When developing an effective early preventive strategy for employees and students with CANS (Complaints of Arm, Neck or Shoulder, not caused by acute trauma or systemic disease), insight in help seeking behaviour and knowledge of factors associated with help seeking behaviour within the target population, is a prerequisite. The aim of this study was to examine whether perceived hindrance is associated with help seeking behaviour, specifically in employees and students identified with CANS. Additionally, the associations of factors related to functioning and participation, work-environment and demographics with help seeking behaviour were explored in these groups. Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted among employees and students of two universities in the South of the Netherlands. The questionnaire included questions to assess (1) demographics, work/study and activity related factors (2) experience of CANS (3) perceived hindrance (4) help seeking behaviour. A subpopulation of the survey, consisting of those employees and students with self-reported CANS, received additional questionnaires to examine the impact of (1) participant characteristics (2) complaint and health related variables (3) functioning and participation (4) work-environment and social support, on help seeking behaviour. Results: 37.3% of the employees and 41.4% of the students reported CANS. Of these, respectively 43.3% and 45.5%, did not seek help and had no intention to seek help either. Employees and students who had not sought help reported less hindrance, less perceived disabilities and shorter duration of complaints, compared those who did seek help. Employees and students within this group who had also no intention to seek help, perceived fewer disabilities and reported shorter duration of complaints. Conclusion: The absence of help seeking behaviour in respondents with CANS is a bottleneck for implementation of preventive strategies. In employees and students with CANS, help seeking behaviour is primarily determined by factors related to experienced hindrance. Our findings emphasize the need to tailor preventive strategies, in order to optimize screening and participation in early interventions for CANS.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBMC Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 28 Nov 2016


  • Complaints Arm Neck Shoulder
  • Help seeking
  • Preventive strategy
  • Employees
  • Students

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