Background. The work-relatedness of repetitive motion injuries to the distal upper extremities (RMI-DUEs) has been well documented; however, human occupation extends beyond the job to include self-care and leisure activities. The effects of hand intensive leisure activities (HILAs) such as home computer use and needlework on RMI-DUEs have not been explored. These HILAs require hand usage similar to known work-related risk factors. Additionally, sedentary leisure contributes to obesity thereby increasing the disease burden of women. Health beliefs regarding leisure and fitness among women employed in hand intensive sedentary jobs have not been explored.

Purpose. The purpose of this study was to to address the gap in information on the effects of HILAs on women’s health. This study also determined women’s beliefs about leisure occupations and the predictive value of these beliefs regarding willingness to change leisure behaviors to enhance health.

Methodology. A cross-sectional survey instrument was completed by 342 women who used computers frequently. Questions included demographics, health, leisure, physical activity, symptoms and beliefs.

Analysis. Descriptive statistics identified population characteristics and HILA choices. Chi-square analysis identified relationships between HILAs and symptoms. Bivariate analysis explored relationships between symptom scores and research variables. Chi-square and t-tests evaluated symptom score and socioeconomic status. Independent and dependent health belief variables were examined for correlation. Factor analysis reduced data to predictor and criterion factors that were then checked for correlation. Linear and multiple regression analysis developed equations predicting dependent health beliefs.

Results. The majority of respondents reported hand symptoms during the last year, but few sought medical care. Four in five respondents participated in at least one HILA, with home computer use and needlework frequent choices. Presence of hand symptoms was associated with needlework, but not with home computer use. BMI was associated with home computer use and with having hand problems diagnosed by a health care provider, but not with symptoms. Years on the job was the sole correlate with elevated symptom score. Race and wage-earner status were not associated with either symptoms or injury claims. For most women, higher scores on susceptibility and self efficacy beliefs best predicted willingness to change leisure behaviors to enhance health; however, among needle workers, higher self-efficacy resulted in less inclination to change behaviors to improve hand health.

Conclusion. HILAs need to be separated by physical differences in order to assess the true contribution to RMI-DUEs. Health educators may need to specifically tailor their interventions for women who participate in selected HILAs such as needlework due to differences in health beliefs.


School of Public Health

First Advisor

Joyce W. Hopp

Second Advisor

Susanne Montgomery

Third Advisor

Gary K. Frykman

Degree Name

Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome; Arm injuries; Wrist injuries; Carpal Tunnel Syndrome



Page Count

xiii; 136

Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives