Hospital porters are possibly exposed to the greatest mechanical loads within the hospital environment. However, the evidence about preventive strategies in this population is scarce.

Objective: To investigate the effect of a workplace-based progressive resistance-training program on musculoskeletal pain among hospital porters.

Method: A total of 37 hospital porters (27 women, 10 men) participated. Participants allocated to the intervention group performed five brief resistance training sessions/week, for 9 weeks during working hours at the hospital. Intensity was progressively increased. Participants allocated to the control group maintained their usual physical activity. The primary outcome was pain assessed with the patient global impression of pain change scale. Secondary outcome measures were average pain intensity, work ability, use of analgesics, and physical function. Additionally, perceived general changes were evaluated at follow-up: wellness, satisfaction at work, desire to exercise, motivation to eat healthy, energy to be with family and friends, and socialization with colleagues.

Results: For the primary outcome, the intervention group showed lower general pain (p < 0.0001) and greater wellbeing (p < 0.0001), work satisfaction (p = 0.0048), desire for practicing exercise (p = 0.0007), and energy (p = 0.0474) compared with the control group. Significant between-group interactions were found for work impairment due to diseases (d = -1.2), hips/thighs pain (d = 0.7), ankles/feet pain (d = 0.4), the Biering-Sorensen test (d = -0.6) and the push-ups test (d = -2.3) favoring the intervention group. All between-group differences were clinically important.

Conclusion: A progressive resistance training program performed at the workplace is feasible and effective in reducing musculoskeletal pain and improving work ability and physical function among