Passive Trunk Exoskeleton Acceptability and Effects on Self-efficacy in Employees with Low-Back Pain: A Mixed Method Approach

S J Baltrusch, H Houdijk, J H van Dieën, J Th C M de Kruif

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Purpose Determinants of successfully introducing passive exoskeletons in the working environment to decrease mechanical loading on the back, are acceptability of the device to management and employees, including self-efficacy of employees when using the device. Therefore, the aim of this study was to assess self-efficacy of employees with low-back pain when using an exoskeleton and the acceptability of such a device to these employees and their managers. Methods We used a mixed method approach. We quantitatively assessed the change in self-efficacy of 17 employees with low-back pain when performing daily activity tasks with the exoskeleton, using the modified spinal function sort (M-SFS). Qualitatively, we conducted a focus group with employees and a double interview with two managers to add more insight and understandings into changes in self-efficacy and to discuss challenges of implementing an exoskeleton in the working environment. Results Self-efficacy significantly increased by 7% when using the exoskeleton. Employees acknowledged the flexibility of the exoskeleton being advantageous to current static external lifting devices, which confirmed the increase of self-efficacy in both static and dynamic tasks. Individual data showed that the increase in self-efficacy was largest for participants, being greatly restricted by their low-back pain. In the focus group, employees confirmed that they are mostly open to wearing the exoskeleton if they suffer from low-back pain. Conclusion If potential challenges, e.g. visibility and potential refusal of wearing an exoskeleton are considered in the implementation strategy, acceptability of and self-efficacy in using the passive trunk exoskeleton would be further improved, potentially contributing to reduced risk of low-back pain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-141
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Occupational Rehabilitation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 May 2020


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