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Efficacy of exercise therapy in workers with rotator cuff tendinopathy: A systematic review
Journal of Occupational Health
  • François Desmeules, Hopital Maisonneuve-Rosemont
  • Jennifer Boudreault, Hopital Maisonneuve-Rosemont
  • Clermont E. Dionne, Université Laval
  • Pierre Frémont, Université Laval
  • Véronique Lowry, Hopital Maisonneuve-Rosemont
  • Joy C. MacDermid, McMaster University, Faculty of Health Sciences
  • Jean Sébastien Roy, Université Laval
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Objective: To perform a systematic review of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on the efficacy of therapeutic exercises for workers suffering from rotator cuff (RC) tendinopathy. Methods: A literature search in four bibliographical databases (Pubmed, CINAHL, EMBASE, and PEDro) was conducted from inception up to February 2015. RCTs were included if participants were workers suffering from RC tendinopathy, the outcome measures included work-related outcomes, and at least one of the interventions under study included exercises. The methodological quality of the studies was evaluated with the Cochrane Risk of Bias Assessment tool. Results: The mean methodological score of the ten included studies was 54.4%±17.2%. Types of workers included were often not defined, and work-related outcome measures were heterogeneous and often not validated. Three RCTs of moderate methodological quality concluded that exercises were superior to a placebo or no intervention in terms of function and return-to-work outcomes. No significant difference was found between surgery and exercises based on the results of two studies of low to moderate methodological quality. One study of low methodological quality, comparing a workplacebased exercise program focusing on the participants' work demands to an exercise program delivered in a clinical setting, concluded that the work-based intervention was superior in terms of function and return-to-work outcomes. Conclusion: There is low to moderate-grade evidence that therapeutic exercises provided in a clinical setting are an effective modality to treat workers suffering from RC tendinopathy and to promote return-to-work. Further high quality studies comparing different rehabilitation programs including exercises in different settings with defined workers populations are needed to draw firm conclusions on the optimal program to treat workers.


Journal of Occupational Health is an Open Access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. To view the details of this license, please visit (

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Desmeules, F., Boudreaeult, J., Dionne, C. E., Frémont P., Lowry, V. MacDermid, J. C., & Roy, J. S. (2016). Efficacy of exercise therapy in workers with rotator cuff tendinopathy: a systematic review. J Occup Health, 58: 389-403. DOI:

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0
Citation Information
François Desmeules, Jennifer Boudreault, Clermont E. Dionne, Pierre Frémont, et al.. "Efficacy of exercise therapy in workers with rotator cuff tendinopathy: A systematic review" Journal of Occupational Health Vol. 58 Iss. 5 (2016) p. 389 - 403
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