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1.  Effectiveness of guideline-based care by occupational physicians on the return-to-work of workers with common mental disorders: design of a cluster-randomised controlled trial 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:193.
Background
Sickness absence due to common mental disorders (such as depression, anxiety disorder, adjustment disorder) is a problem in many Western countries. Long-term sickness absence leads to substantial societal and financial costs. In workers with common mental disorders, sickness absence costs are much higher than medical costs. In the Netherlands, a practice guideline was developed that promotes an activating approach of the occupational physician to establish faster return-to-work by enhancing the problem-solving capacity of workers, especially in relation to their work environment. Studies on this guideline indicate a promising association between guideline adherence and a shortened sick leave duration, but also minimal adherence to the guideline by occupational physicians. Therefore, this study evaluates the effect of guideline-based care on the full return-to-work of workers who are sick listed due to common mental disorders.
Methods/design
This is a two-armed cluster-randomised controlled trial with randomisation at the occupational physician level. During one year, occupational physicians in the intervention group receive innovative training to improve their guideline-based care whereas occupational physicians in the control group provide care as usual. A total of 232 workers, sick listed due to common mental disorders and counselled by participating occupational physicians, will be included. Data are collected via the registration system of the occupational health service, and by questionnaires at baseline and at 3, 6 and 12 months. The primary outcome is time to full return-to-work. Secondary outcomes are partial return-to-work, total number of sick leave days, symptoms, and workability. Personal and work characteristics are the prognostic measures. Additional measures are coping, self-efficacy, remoralization, personal experiences, satisfaction with consultations with the occupational physician and with contact with the supervisor, experiences and behaviour of the supervisor, and the extent of guideline adherence.
Discussion
If the results show that guideline-based care in fact leads to faster and sustainable return-to-work, this study will contribute to lowering personal, societal and financial costs.
Trial registration
ISRCTN86605310
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-193
PMCID: PMC3599838  PMID: 23496948
Common mental disorders; Sick leave; Return-to-work; Occupational health service; Occupational physicians; Guideline adherence; Guideline-based care
2.  Binge Drinking and Occupation, North Dakota, 2004–2005 
Preventing Chronic Disease  2007;4(4):A94.
Introduction
Binge drinking is a leading cause of preventable death and results in employee absenteeism and lost productivity. Knowledge about the prevalence of binge drinking among employees of different occupations is limited.
Methods
We assessed the prevalence of binge drinking (i.e., consuming five or more drinks per occasion during the previous 30 days) by primary occupation using data from the 2004–2005 North Dakota Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. We used logistic regression to assess the association between binge drinking and primary occupation.
Results
Overall, 24.1% (95% confidence interval [CI], 22.5–25.7) of North Dakota workers reported binge drinking. The prevalence was highest among farm or ranch employees (45.3%; 95% CI, 28.3–63.4), food or drink servers (33.4%; 95% CI, 23.9–44.4), and farm or ranch owners (32.5%; 95% CI, 26.3–39.4). The prevalence was lowest among health care workers (13.2%; 95% CI, 10.3–16.8). Compared with health care workers, the adjusted odds of binge drinking were highest among farm or ranch employees (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 2.2; 95% CI, 0.9–5.5), food or drink servers (AOR, 2.1; 95% CI, 1.1–4.0), and farm or ranch owners (AOR, 1.7; 95% CI, 1.1–2.6). Health insurance coverage was lowest among employees in occupations with the highest prevalence of binge drinking.
Conclusion
We found occupational differences in the prevalence of binge drinking among employees in North Dakota. Many occupational categories had a high prevalence of binge drinking. We recommend the implementation of both employer-sponsored and population-based interventions to reduce binge drinking among North Dakota workers, particularly because employees in occupations with the highest rates of binge drinking had the lowest rates of health insurance coverage.
PMCID: PMC2099292  PMID: 17875269
3.  Tuberculosis among Health-Care Workers in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(12):e494.
Background
The risk of transmission of Mycobacterium tuberculosis from patients to health-care workers (HCWs) is a neglected problem in many low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Most health-care facilities in these countries lack resources to prevent nosocomial transmission of tuberculosis (TB).
Methods and Findings
We conducted a systematic review to summarize the evidence on the incidence and prevalence of latent TB infection (LTBI) and disease among HCWs in LMICs, and to evaluate the impact of various preventive strategies that have been attempted. To identify relevant studies, we searched electronic databases and journals, and contacted experts in the field. We identified 42 articles, consisting of 51 studies, and extracted data on incidence, prevalence, and risk factors for LTBI and disease among HCWs. The prevalence of LTBI among HCWs was, on average, 54% (range 33% to 79%). Estimates of the annual risk of LTBI ranged from 0.5% to 14.3%, and the annual incidence of TB disease in HCWs ranged from 69 to 5,780 per 100,000. The attributable risk for TB disease in HCWs, compared to the risk in the general population, ranged from 25 to 5,361 per 100,000 per year. A higher risk of acquiring TB disease was associated with certain work locations (inpatient TB facility, laboratory, internal medicine, and emergency facilities) and occupational categories (radiology technicians, patient attendants, nurses, ward attendants, paramedics, and clinical officers).
Conclusions
In summary, our review demonstrates that TB is a significant occupational problem among HCWs in LMICs. Available evidence reinforces the need to design and implement simple, effective, and affordable TB infection-control programs in health-care facilities in these countries.
A systematic review demonstrates that tuberculosis is an important occupational problem among health care workers in low and middle-income countries.
Editors' Summary
Background.
One third of the world's population is infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes tuberculosis (TB). In many people, the bug causes no health problems—it remains latent. But about 10% of infected people develop active, potentially fatal TB, often in their lungs. People with active pulmonary TB readily spread the infection to other people, including health-care workers (HCWs), in small airborne droplets produced when they cough or sneeze. In high-income countries such as the US, guidelines are in place to minimize the transmission of TB in health-care facilities. Administrative controls (for example, standard treatment plans for people with suspected or confirmed TB) aim to reduce the exposure of HCWs to people with TB. Environmental controls (for example, the use of special isolation rooms) aim to prevent the spread and to reduce the concentration of infectious droplets in the air. Finally, respiratory-protection controls (for example, personal respirators for nursing staff) aim to reduce the risk of infection when exposure to M. tuberculosis is unavoidably high. Together, these three layers of control have reduced the incidence of TB in HCWs (the number who catch TB annually) in high-income countries.
Why Was This Study Done?
But what about low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) where more than 90% of the world's cases of TB occur? Here, there is little money available to implement even low-cost strategies to reduce TB transmission in health-care facilities—so how important an occupational disease is TB in HCWs in these countries? In this study, the researchers have systematically reviewed published papers to find out the incidence and prevalence (how many people in a population have a specific disease) of active TB and latent TB infections (LTBIs) in HCWs in LMICs. They have also investigated whether any of the preventative strategies used in high-income countries have been shown to reduce the TB burden in HCWs in poorer countries.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
To identify studies on TB transmission to HCWs in LMICs, the researchers searched electronic databases and journals, and also contacted experts on TB transmission. They then extracted and analyzed the relevant data on TB incidence, prevalence, risk factors, and control measures. Averaged-out over the 51 identified studies, 54% of HCWs had LTBI. In most of the studies, increasing age and duration of employment in health-care facilities, indicating a longer cumulative exposure to infection, was associated with a higher prevalence of LTBI. The same trend was seen in a subgroup of medical and nursing students. After accounting for the incidence of TB in the relevant general population, the excess incidence of TB in the different studies that was attributable to being a HCW ranged from 25 to 5,361 cases per 100, 000 people per year. In addition, a higher risk of acquiring TB was associated with working in specific locations (for example, inpatient TB facilities or diagnostic laboratories) and with specific occupations, including nurses and radiology attendants; most of the health-care facilities examined in the published studies had no specific TB infection-control programs in place.
What Do These Findings Mean?
As with all systematic reviews, the accuracy of these findings may be limited by some aspects of the original studies, such as how the incidence of LTBI was measured. In addition, the possibility that the researchers missed some relevant published studies, or that only studies where there was a high incidence of TB in HCWs were published, may also affect the findings of this study. Nevertheless, they suggest that TB is an important occupational disease in HCWs in LMICs and that the HCWs most at risk of TB are those exposed to the most patients with TB. Reduction of that risk should be a high priority because occupational TB leads to the loss of essential, skilled HCWs. Unfortunately, there are few data available to indicate how this should be done. Thus, the researchers conclude, well-designed field studies are urgently needed to evaluate whether the TB-control measures that have reduced TB transmission to HCWs in high-income countries will work and be affordable in LMICs.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030494.
• US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases patient fact sheet on tuberculosis
• US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention information for patients and professionals on tuberculosis
• MedlinePlus encyclopedia entry on tuberculosis
• NHS Direct Online, from the UK National Health Service, patient information on tuberculosis
• US National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety, information about tuberculosis for health-care workers
• American Lung Association information on tuberculosis and health-care workers
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030494
PMCID: PMC1716189  PMID: 17194191
4.  VIP in construction: systematic development and evaluation of a multifaceted health programme aiming to improve physical activity levels and dietary patterns among construction workers 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:89.
Background
The prevalence of both overweight and musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) in the construction industry is high. Many interventions in the occupational setting aim at the prevention and reduction of these health problems, but it is still unclear how these programmes should be designed. To determine the effectiveness of interventions on these health outcomes randomised controlled trials (RCTs) are needed. The aim of this study is to systematically develop a tailored intervention for prevention and reduction of overweight and MSD among construction workers and to describe the evaluation study regarding its (cost-)effectiveness.
Methods/Design
The Intervention Mapping (IM) protocol was applied to develop and implement a tailored programme aimed at the prevention and reduction of overweight and MSD. The (cost-) effectiveness of the intervention programme will be evaluated using an RCT. Furthermore, a process evaluation will be conducted. The research population will consist of blue collar workers of a large construction company in the Netherlands.
Intervention
The intervention programme will be aimed at improving (vigorous) physical activity levels and healthy dietary behaviour and will consist of tailored information, face-to-face and telephone counselling, training instruction (a fitness "card" to be used for exercises), and materials designed for the intervention (overview of the company health promoting facilities, waist circumference measuring tape, pedometer, BMI card, calorie guide, recipes, and knowledge test).
Main study parameters/endpoints
The intervention effect on body weight and waist circumference (primary outcome measures), as well as on lifestyle behaviour, MSD, fitness, CVD risk indicators, and work-related outcomes (i.e. productivity, sick leave) (secondary outcome measures) will be assessed.
Discussion
The development of the VIP in construction intervention led to a health programme tailored to the needs of construction workers. This programme, if proven effective, can be directly implemented.
Trial registration
Netherlands Trial Register (NTR): NTR2095
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-89
PMCID: PMC3280176  PMID: 22289212
Obesity/overweight; Musculoskeletal disorders; RCT; Energy balance related behaviour; Physical activity; Dietary behaviour; Construction workers; Intervention mapping
5.  Results from an Online Computer-Tailored Weight Management Intervention for Overweight Adults: Randomized Controlled Trial 
Background
Prevention of weight gain has been suggested as an important strategy in the prevention of obesity and people who are overweight are a specifically important group to target. Currently there is a lack of weight gain prevention interventions that can reach large numbers of people. Therefore, we developed an Internet-delivered, computer-tailored weight management intervention for overweight adults. The focus of the intervention was on making small (100 kcal per day), but sustained changes in dietary intake (DI) or physical activity (PA) behaviors in order to maintain current weight or achieve modest weight loss. Self-regulation theory was used as the basis of the intervention.
Objective
This study aims to evaluate the efficacy of the computer-tailored intervention in weight-related anthropometric measures (Body Mass Index, skin folds and waist circumference) and energy balance-related behaviors (physical activity; intake of fat, snacks and sweetened drinks) in a randomized controlled trial.
Methods
The tailored intervention (TI) was compared to a generic information website (GI). Participants were 539 overweight adults (mean age 47.8 years, mean Body Mass Index (BMI) 28.04, 30.9% male, 10.7% low educated) who where recruited among the general population and among employees from large companies by means of advertisements and flyers. Anthropometric measurements were measured by trained research assistants at baseline and 6-months post-intervention. DI and PA behaviors were assessed at baseline, 1-month and 6-month post-intervention, using self-reported questionnaires.
Results
Repeated measurement analyses showed that BMI remained stable over time and that there were no statistically significant differences between the study groups (BMI: TI=28.09, GI=27.61, P=.09). Similar results were found for waist circumference and skin fold thickness. Amount of physical activity increased and intake of fat, snacks and sweetened drinks decreased during the course of the study, but there were no differences between the study groups (eg, fat intake: TI=15.4, GI=15.9, P=.74). The first module of the tailored intervention was visited by almost all participants, but only 15% completed all four modules of the tailored intervention, while 46% completed the three modules of the general information intervention. The tailored intervention was considered more personally relevant (TI=3.20, GI=2.83, P=.001), containing more new information (TI=3.11, GI=2.73, P=.003) and having longer texts (TI=3.20, GI=3.07, P=.01), while there were no group differences on other process measures such as attractiveness and comprehensibility of the information (eg, attractive design: TI=3.22, GI=3.16, P=.58).
Conclusions
The online, computer-tailored weight management intervention resulted in changes in the desired direction, such as stabilization of weight and improvements in dietary intake, but the intervention was not more effective in preventing weight gain or modifying dietary and physical activity behaviors than generic information. A possible reason for the absence of intervention effects is sub-optimal use of the intervention and the self-regulation components. Further research is therefore needed to gain more insight into how the intervention and exposure to its contents can be improved.
Trial Registration
NTR1862; http://apps.who.int/trialsearch/trial.aspx?trialid=NTR1862
doi:10.2196/jmir.1901
PMCID: PMC3376515  PMID: 22417813
Prevention; Overweight; Adults; Randomized Controlled Trial; Physical activity; Dietary intake; BMI
6.  Occupational Health Policies on Risk Assessment in Japan 
Safety and Health at Work  2010;1(1):19-28.
Industrial Safety and Health Law (ISH Law) of Japan requires abnormalities identified in evaluations of worker health and working environments are reported to occupational physicians, and employers are advised of measures to ensure appropriate accommodations in working environments and work procedures. Since the 1980s, notions of a risk assessment and occupational safety and health management system were expected to further prevent industrial accidents. In 2005, ISH Law stipulated workplace risk assessment using the wording "employers shall endeavor." Following the amendment, multiple documents and guidelines for risk assessment for different work procedures were developed. They require ISH Laws to be implemented fully and workplaces to plan and execute measures to reduce risks, ranking them from those addressing potential hazards to those requiring workers to wear protective articles. A governmental survey in 2005 found the performance of risk assessment was 20.4% and common reasons for not implementing risk assessments were lack of adequate personnel or knowledge. ISH Law specifies criminal penalties for both individuals and organizations. Moreover, under the Labor Contract Law promulgated in 2007, employers are obliged to make reasonable efforts to ensure employee health for foreseeable and avoidable risks. Therefore, enterprises neglecting even the non-binding provisions of guidelines are likely to suffer significant business impact if judged to be responsible for industrial accidents or occupational disease. To promote risk assessment, we must strengthen technical, financial, and physical support from public-service organizations, encourage the dissemination of good practices to reduce risks, and consider additional employer incentives, including relaxed mandatory regulations.
doi:10.5491/SHAW.2010.1.1.19
PMCID: PMC3430934  PMID: 22953159
Occupational health services; Health policy; Risk assessment; Risk management; Occupational health and safety management system
7.  Design of a RCT evaluating the (cost-) effectiveness of a lifestyle intervention for male construction workers at risk for cardiovascular disease: The Health under Construction study 
BMC Public Health  2008;8:1.
Background
Of all workers in Dutch construction industry, 20% has an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). A major risk factor for CVD risk is an unhealthy lifestyle. The aim of our study is to design a lifestyle intervention for construction workers with an elevated CVD risk, and to evaluate its (cost-) effectiveness.
Methods/Design
In a RCT, 692 participants will be randomised to either the control or the intervention group. The control group will receive usual care. For the intervention group, a lifestyle intervention has been designed based on interviews and current literature. The intervention will last 6 months and will comprise 3 face-to-face and 4 telephone contacts, consisting of individual counselling aimed at increasing daily physical activity (PA) and improving dietary behaviour, and/or smoking cessation. Counselling will take place at the Occupational Health Service (OHS), and will be done according to motivational interviewing (MI). Additional written information about healthy lifestyle will also be provided to those in the intervention group. At baseline, after 6 and after 12 months, measurements will take place. Primary outcome variables will be the lifestyle behaviours of concern, i.e. daily PA, dietary intake, and smoking status. Secondary outcome variables will be body mass index (BMI), systolic and diastolic blood pressure, total and HDL blood cholesterol, Hba1c and cardio-respiratory fitness (CRF). Sickness absenteeism and cost-effectiveness will be assessed as well. Multilevel analysis will be performed to compare all outcome measures between the intervention group and the control group.
Discussion
By improving lifestyle, CVD risk may be lowered, yielding benefits for both employee and employer. If proven effective, this lifestyle intervention will be implemented on a larger scale within the Occupational Health Services in construction industry.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN60545588
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-8-1
PMCID: PMC2254612  PMID: 18173844
8.  Ethical considerations of worksite health promotion: an exploration of stakeholders’ views 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:458.
Background
Developing, implementing and evaluating worksite health promotion requires dealing with all stakeholders involved, such as employers, employees, occupational physicians, insurance companies, providers, labour unions and research and knowledge institutes. Although worksite health promotion is becoming more common, empirical research on ethical considerations of worksite health promotion is scarce.
Methods
We explored the views of stakeholders involved in worksite health promotion in focus group discussions and we described the ethical considerations that result from differences between these views. The focus group discussions were organised per stakeholder group. Data were analysed according to the constant comparison method.
Results
Our analyses show that although the definition of occupational health is the same for all stakeholders, namely ‘being able to perform your job’, there seem to be important differences in the views on what constitutes a risk factor to occupational health. According to the employees, risk factors to occupational health are prevailingly job-related. Labour unions agree with them, but other stakeholders, including the employer, particularly see employee-related issues such as lifestyle behaviour as risk factors to occupational health. The difference in definition of occupational health risk factors translates into the same categorisation of worksite health promotion; employee-related activities and work-related activities. The difference in conceptualisation of occupational health risk factors and worksite health promotion resonates in the way stakeholders understand ‘responsibility’ for lifestyle behaviour. Even though all stakeholders agree on whose responsibility lifestyle behaviour is, namely that of the employee, the meaning of ‘responsibility’ differs between employees, and employers. For employees, responsibility means autonomy, while for employers and other stakeholders, responsibility equals duty. This difference may in turn contribute to ambivalent relationships between stakeholders.
Conclusion
All stakeholders, including employees, should be given a voice in developing, implementing and evaluating worksite health promotion. Moreover, since stakeholders agree on lifestyle being the responsibility of the employee, but disagree on what this responsibility means (duty versus autonomy), it is of utmost importance to examine the discourse of stakeholders. This way, ambivalence in relationships between stakeholders could be prevented.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-458
PMCID: PMC4047781  PMID: 24886339
Worksite health promotion; Ethics; Focus group discussion; Face-to-face interviews; Stakeholder analysis
9.  Design of a randomized controlled trial on the effects of Counseling of mental health problems by Occupational Physicians on return to work: the CO-OP-study 
BMC Public Health  2007;7:183.
Background
Mental health problems often lead to prolonged sick leave. In primary care, the usual approach towards these patients was the advice to take rest and not return to work before all complaints had disappeared. When complaints persist, these patients are often referred to psychologists from primary and specialized secondary care. As an alternative, ways have been sought to activate the Dutch occupational physician (OP) in primary care. Early 2000, the Dutch Association of Occupational Physicians (NVAB) published a guideline concerning the management by OPs of employees with mental health problems. The guideline received positive reactions from employees, employers and Dutch OPs. This manuscript describes the design of a study, which aims to assess the effects of the guideline, compared with usual care.
Methods/Design
In a randomized controlled trial (RCT), subjects in the intervention group were treated according to the guideline. The control group received usual care, with minimal involvement of the OP and easy access to a psychologist. Subjects were recruited from two Dutch police departments. The primary outcomes of the study are return to work and treatment satisfaction by the employee, employer, and OP. A secondary outcome is cost-effectiveness of the intervention, compared with usual care. Furthermore, prognostic measures are taken into account as potential confounders. A process evaluation will be done by means of performance indicators, based on the guideline.
Discussion
In this pragmatic trial, effectiveness instead of efficacy is studied. We will evaluate what is possible in real clinical practice, rather than under ideal circumstances. Many requirements for a high quality trial are being met. Results of this study will contribute to treatment options in occupational health practice for employees on sick leave due to mental health problems. Additionally, they may contribute to new and better-suited guidelines and stepped care. Results will become available during 2007.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN34887348
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-7-183
PMCID: PMC1976112  PMID: 17655758
10.  Rational Prescribing in Primary Care (RaPP): A Cluster Randomized Trial of a Tailored Intervention 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(6):e134.
Background
A gap exists between evidence and practice regarding the management of cardiovascular risk factors. This gap could be narrowed if systematically developed clinical practice guidelines were effectively implemented in clinical practice. We evaluated the effects of a tailored intervention to support the implementation of systematically developed guidelines for the use of antihypertensive and cholesterol-lowering drugs for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a cluster-randomized trial comparing a tailored intervention to passive dissemination of guidelines in 146 general practices in two geographical areas in Norway. Each practice was randomized to either the tailored intervention (70 practices; 257 physicians) or control group (69 practices; 244 physicians). Patients started on medication for hypertension or hypercholesterolemia during the study period and all patients already on treatment that consulted their physician during the trial were included. A multifaceted intervention was tailored to address identified barriers to change. Key components were an educational outreach visit with audit and feedback, and computerized reminders linked to the medical record system. Pharmacists conducted the visits. Outcomes were measured for all eligible patients seen in the participating practices during 1 y before and after the intervention. The main outcomes were the proportions of (1) first-time prescriptions for hypertension where thiazides were prescribed, (2) patients assessed for cardiovascular risk before prescribing antihypertensive or cholesterol-lowering drugs, and (3) patients treated for hypertension or hypercholesterolemia for 3 mo or more who had achieved recommended treatment goals.
The intervention led to an increase in adherence to guideline recommendations on choice of antihypertensive drug. Thiazides were prescribed to 17% of patients in the intervention group versus 11% in the control group (relative risk 1.94; 95% confidence interval 1.49–2.49, adjusted for baseline differences and clustering effect). Little or no differences were found for risk assessment prior to prescribing and for achievement of treatment goals.
Conclusions
Our tailored intervention had a significant impact on prescribing of antihypertensive drugs, but was ineffective in improving the quality of other aspects of managing hypertension and hypercholesterolemia in primary care.
Editors' Summary
Background.
An important issue in health care is “getting research into practice,” in other words, making sure that, when evidence from research has established the best way to treat a disease, doctors actually use that approach with their patients. In reality, there is often a gap between evidence and practice.
  An example concerns the treatment of people who have high blood pressure (hypertension) and/or high cholesterol. These are common conditions, and both increase the risk of having a heart attack or a stroke. Research has shown that the risks can be lowered if patients with these conditions are given drugs that lower blood pressure (antihypertensives) and drugs that lower cholesterol. There are many types of these drugs now available. In many countries, the health authorities want family doctors (general practitioners) to make better use of these drugs. They want doctors to prescribe them to everyone who would benefit, using the type of drugs found to be most effective. When there is a choice of drugs that are equally effective, they want doctors to use the cheapest type. (In the case of antihypertensives, an older type, known as thiazides, is very effective and also very cheap, but many doctors prefer to give their patients newer, more expensive alternatives.) Health authorities have issued guidelines to doctors that address these issues. However, it is not easy to change prescribing practices, and research in several countries has shown that issuing guidelines has only limited effects.
Why Was This Study Done?
The researchers wanted—in two parts of Norway—to compare the effects on prescribing practices of what they called the “passive dissemination of guidelines” with a more active approach, where the use of the guidelines was strongly promoted and encouraged.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
They worked with 146 general practices. In half of them the guidelines were actively promoted. The remaining were regarded as a control group; they were given the guidelines but no special efforts were made to encourage their use. It was decided at random which practices would be in which group; this approach is called a randomized controlled trial. The methods used to actively promote use of the guidelines included personal visits to the practices by pharmacists and use of a computerized reminder system. Information was then collected on the number of patients who, when first treated for hypertension, were prescribed a thiazide. Other information collected included whether patients had been properly assessed for their level of risk (for strokes and heart attacks) before antihypertensive or cholesterol-lowering drugs were given. In addition, the researchers recorded whether the recommended targets for improvement in blood pressure and cholesterol level had been reached.
Only 11% of those patients visiting the control group of practices who should have been prescribed thiazides, according to the guidelines, actually received them. Of those seen by doctors in the practices where the guidelines were actively promoted, 17% received thiazides. According to statistical analysis, the increase achieved by active promotion is significant. Little or no differences were found for risk assessment prior to prescribing and for achievement of treatment goals.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Even in the active promotion group, the great majority of patients (83%) were still not receiving treatment according to the guidelines. However, active promotion of guidelines is more effective than simply issuing the guidelines by themselves. The study also demonstrates that it is very hard to change prescribing practices. The efforts made here to encourage the doctors to change were considerable, and although the results were significant, they were still disappointing. Also disappointing is the fact that achievement of treatment goals was no better in the active-promotion group. These issues are discussed further in a Perspective about this study (DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0030229).
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030134.
• The Web site of the American Academy of Family Physicians has a page on heart disease
• The MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia's pages on heart diseases and vascular diseases
• Information from NHS Direct (UK National Health Service) about heart attack and stroke
• Another PLoS Medicine article has also addressed trends in thiazide prescribing
Passive dissemination of management guidelines for hypertension and hypercholesterolaemia was compared with active promotion. Active promotion led to significant improvement in antihypertensive prescribing but not other aspects of management.
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030134
PMCID: PMC1472695  PMID: 16737346
11.  Individual and occupational risk factors for knee osteoarthritis – Study protocol of a case control study 
Background
Knee osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the frequent and functionally impairing disorders of the musculoskeletal system. In the literature, a number of occupational risk factors are discussed as being related to the development and progress of knee joint diseases, e.g. working in kneeling or squatting posture, lifting and carrying of heavy weights. The importance of the single risk factors and the possibility of prevention are currently under discussion. Besides the occupational factors, a number of individual risk factors are important, too. The distinction between work-related factors and individual factors is crucial in assessing the risk and in deriving preventive measures in occupational health. In existing studies, the occupational stress is determined mainly by surveys in employees and/or by making assumptions about individual occupations. Direct evaluation of occupational exposure has been performed only exceptionally.
The aim of the research project ArGon is the assessment of different occupational factors in relation to individual factors (e.g. constitutional factors, leisure time activities, sports), which might influence the development and/or progression of knee (OA). The project is designed as a case control study.
Methods/Design
To raise valid data about the physical stress associated with occupational and leisure time activities, patients with and without knee OA are questioned by means of a standardised questionnaire and an interview. The required sample size was estimated to 800 cases and an equal number of controls. The degree and localisation of the knee cartilage or joint damages in the cases are documented on the basis of radiological, arthroscopic and/or operative findings in a patient record. Furthermore, occupational exposure is analysed at selected workplaces. To evaluate the answers provided in the questionnaire, work analysis is performed.
Discussion
In this research project, specific information on the correlation of occupational and individual factors on the one hand and the current state of knee OA on the other will be analysed in order to describe preventive measures. In addition, information regarding a better evaluation of various forms of physical stress in different occupations will be available. This might lead to more effective prevention strategies.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-9-26
PMCID: PMC2292715  PMID: 18302740
12.  Promoting mental health in small-medium enterprises: An evaluation of the "Business in Mind" program 
BMC Public Health  2009;9:239.
Background
Workplace mental health promotion (WMHP) aims to prevent and effectively manage the social and economic costs of common mental illnesses such as depression. The mental health of managers and employees within small-medium enterprises (SMEs) is a neglected sector in occupational health research and practice, despite the fact that this sector is the most common work setting in most economies. The availability and propensity of SME staff to attend face-to-face training/therapy or workshop style interventions often seen in corporate or public sector work settings is a widely recognised problem. The 'Business in Mind' program employs a DVD mode of delivery that is convenient for SME managers, particularly those operating in regional and remote areas where internet delivery may not be optimal. The objective of the intervention program is to improve the mental health of SME managers, and examine whether employees of managers' whose mental health improves, report positive change in their psychosocial work environment. The mechanisms via which we aim to improve managers' mental health are through the development of their psychological capital (a higher order construct comprised of hope, self efficacy, resilience and optimism) and their skills and capacities for coping with work stress.
Methods/Design
The effectiveness of two versions of the program (self administered and telephone facilitated) will be assessed using a randomised trial with an active control condition (psychoeducation only). We aim to recruit a minimum of 249 managers and a sample of their employees. This design allows for 83 managers per group, as power analyses showed that this number would allow for attrition of 20% and still enable detection of an effect size of 0.5. The intervention will be implemented over a three month period and postal surveys will assess managers and employees in each group at baseline, intervention completion, and at 6 month follow up. The intervention groups (managers only) will also be assessed at 12 and 24 month follow-up to examine maintenance of effects. Primary outcomes are managers' levels of psychological capital (hope, resilience, self-efficacy and optimism), coping strategies, anxiety and depression symptoms, self-reported health, job satisfaction and job tension. Secondary outcomes are participating managers subordinates' perceptions of manager support, relational justice, emotional climate and job tension. In order to provide an economic evaluation of the intervention, both employees and manager rates of absenteeism and presenteeism will also be assessed.
Discussion
The intervention being trialled is expected to improve both primary and secondary outcomes. If proven efficacious, the intervention could be disseminated to reach a much larger proportion of the business community.
Trial registration
Current controlled trials ISRCTN 62853520
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-9-239
PMCID: PMC2714843  PMID: 19604351
13.  Occupational cancer in France: epidemiology, toxicology, prevention, and compensation. 
Environmental Health Perspectives  1999;107(Suppl 2):245-252.
This article is a description of the current situation in France with regard to occupational cancer: research, prevention, and occupation. Toxicologic experiments are carried out using (italic)in vitro(/italic) and (italic)in vivo(/italic) tests, particularly using transgenic mice. Several epidemiologic studies have been conducted over the last decades: population-based case-control studies; mortality studies and cancer incidence studies carried out in historical cohorts of workers employed in the industry; and case-control studies nested in occupational cohorts. French ethical aspects of toxicologic and epidemiologic studies are described. The results thus obtained are used to establish regulations for the prevention and the compensation of cancers attributable to occupational exposure. This French regulation for prevention of occupational cancer involves several partners: (italic)a(/italic)) the states authorities, including labor inspectors, responsible for preparing and implementing the labor legislation and for supervising its application, particularly in the fields of occupational health and safety and working conditions; (italic)b(/italic)) the Social Security Organisation for the analysis of present or potential occupational risks based on tests, visits in plants, complaints or requests from various sources, and statistics. These activities are performed within the framework of the general French policy for the prevention of occupational cancer. This organization includes the National Institute for Research and Safety, particularly involved in research in the various fields of occupational risks--animal toxicology, biologic monitoring, exposure measurements epidemiology, psychology, ergonomy, electronic systems and machineries, exposure to chemicals, noise, heat, vibration, and lighting; and (italic)c(/italic)) companies where the regulation defines the role of the plant manager, the occupational physician, and the Health, Safety and Working Conditions Committee (comprising the manager, employees' representatives, the occupational physician, and the safety department) in dealing with any problem regarding safety, occupational hygiene, and working conditions. These organizations along with medical practitioners are involved with the compensation of occupational cancers. The regulation for compensation includes the tables of occupational cancer, the possibility of recognition of a cancer case when the requirements of the tables are not met, and the postprofessional follow-up of workers exposed to a carcinogenic agent.
PMCID: PMC1566288  PMID: 10350507
14.  Obesity Prevalence by Occupation in Washington State, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System 
Introduction
Data that estimate the prevalence of and risk factors for worker obesity by occupation are generally unavailable and could inform the prioritization of workplace wellness programs. The aims of this study were to estimate the prevalence of obesity by occupation, examine the association of occupational physical activity and a range of health behaviors with obesity, and identify occupations in which workers are at high risk of obesity in Washington State.
Methods
We conducted descriptive and multivariable analyses among 37,626 employed Washington State respondents using the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System in odd numbered years, from 2003 through 2009. We estimated prevalence and prevalence ratios (PRs) by occupational groups adjusting for demographics, occupational physical activity level, smoking, fruit and vegetable consumption, and leisure-time physical activity (LPTA).
Results
Overall obesity prevalence was 24.6% (95% confidence interval [CI], 24.0–25.1). Workers in protective services were 2.46 (95% CI, 1.72–3.50) times as likely to be obese as workers in health diagnosing occupations. Compared with their counterparts, workers who consumed adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables and had adequate LTPA were significantly less likely to be obese (PR = 0.91; 95% CI, 0.86–0.97 and PR = 0.63; 95% CI, 0.60–0.67, respectively). Workers with physically demanding occupational physical activity had a lower PR of obesity (PR = 0.83; 95% CI, 0.78–0.88) than those with nonphysically demanding occupational physical activity.
Conclusion
Obesity prevalence and health risk behaviors vary substantially by occupation. Employers, policy makers, and health promotion practitioners can use our results to target and prioritize workplace obesity prevention and health behavior promotion programs.
doi:10.5888/pcd11.130219
PMCID: PMC3887052  PMID: 24406093
15.  Rates and Determinants of Uptake and Use of an Internet Physical Activity and Weight Management Program in Office and Manufacturing Work Sites in England: Cohort Study 
Background
Internet-based physical activity (PA) and weight management programs have the potential to improve employees’ health in large occupational health settings. To be successful, the program must engage a wide range of employees, especially those at risk of weight gain or ill health.
Objective
The aim of the study was to assess the use and nonuse (user attrition) of a Web-based and monitoring device–based PA and weight management program in a range of employees and to determine if engagement with the program was related to the employees’ baseline characteristics or measured outcomes.
Methods
Longitudinal observational study of a cohort of employees having access to the MiLife Web-based automated behavior change system. Employees were recruited from manufacturing and office sites in the North West and the South of England. Baseline health data were collected, and participants were given devices to monitor their weight and PA via data upload to the website. Website use, PA, and weight data were collected throughout the 12-week program.
Results
Overall, 12% of employees at the four sites (265/2302) agreed to participate in the program, with 130 men (49%) and 135 women (51%), and of these, 233 went on to start the program. During the program, the dropout rate was 5% (11/233). Of the remaining 222 Web program users, 173 (78%) were using the program at the end of the 12 weeks, with 69% (153/222) continuing after this period. Engagement with the program varied by site but was not significantly different between the office and factory sites. During the first 2 weeks, participants used the website, on average, 6 times per week, suggesting an initial learning period after which the frequency of website log-in was typically 2 visits per week and 7 minutes per visit. Employees who uploaded weight data had a significant reduction in weight (−2.6 kg, SD 3.2, P< .001). The reduction in weight was largest for employees using the program’s weight loss mode (−3.4 kg, SD 3.5). Mean PA level recorded throughout the program was 173 minutes (SE 12.8) of moderate/high intensity PA per week. Website interaction time was higher and attrition rates were lower (OR 1.38, P= .03) in those individuals with the greatest weight loss.
Conclusions
This Web-based PA and weight management program showed high levels of engagement across a wide range of employees, including overweight or obese workers, shift workers, and those who do not work with computers. Weight loss was observed at both office and manufacturing sites. The use of monitoring devices to capture and send data to the automated Web-based coaching program may have influenced the high levels of engagement observed in this study. When combined with objective monitoring devices for PA and weight, both use of the website and outcomes can be tracked, allowing the online coaching program to become more personalized to the individual.
doi:10.2196/jmir.1108
PMCID: PMC2629365  PMID: 19117828
Employee health; Internet; device; behavior change; body weight; psychology; physical activity; occupational health; diet; technology
16.  A multidisciplinary intervention to facilitate return to work in cancer patients: intervention protocol and design of a feasibility study 
BMJ Open  2012;2(4):e001321.
Introduction
Returning to work can be problematic for cancer survivors due to suboptimal workplace support, a heavy workload, decreased physical functioning and fatigue. The timely and permanent return to work (RtW) of cancer patients favourably influences quality of life and economic independence. Multidisciplinary interventions aimed at timely and enduring RtW are lacking. The objectives of this article are (1) to describe the protocol of an intervention aimed at RtW of cancer patients, comprising of counselling by an oncological occupational physician and supervised physical exercise in a clinical setting during treatment and (2) to present the design of the study aimed at evaluating the feasibility of this intervention.
Methods and analysis
The intervention comprises three counselling sessions with an oncological occupational physician and a 12-week moderate-to-high intensity physical exercise programme, starting at the onset of chemotherapy. The intervention is aimed at cancer patients treated with curative intent, aged 18–60 years, employed and on sick leave. It will take place in two large medical centres in the Netherlands. The feasibility of the intervention will be evaluated as follows: the number of sessions, topics discussed and exercises executed will be registered by care providers; patients' and care providers' opinions will be assessed by questionnaires and interviews, respectively; and the proportion of invited patients that participated will be calculated.
Ethics and dissemination
The study results will be used for optimising the intervention content and may serve as a foundation for future implementation. The Medical Ethics Committees of the Academic Medical Center and the participating medical centres approved the study protocol.
Article summary
Article focus
The goals of this article are to describe the protocol of an intervention aimed at RtW of cancer patients, comprising of counselling by an oncological occupational physician and supervised physical exercise in a clinical setting during treatment and to present the design of the study used to evaluate the feasibility of this intervention.
Key messages
Returning to work is problematic for cancer survivors due to, among other factors, suboptimal workplace support, a heavy workload, decreased physical functioning and fatigue.
Timely and enduring RtW may favourably influence quality of life and economic independence of cancer patients.
A multidisciplinary intervention for cancer patients consisting of counselling and physical exercise aimed at returning to work is warranted and must be evaluated for feasibility.
Strengths and limitations of this study
The intervention is innovative in its early onset, clinical setting and the fact that both work- and physical health-related determinants of RtW are targeted.
The feasibility of the intervention will be investigated thoroughly at the level of the patients and the care providers using qualitative and quantitative methods.
Only one occupational health professional will be involved in the intervention, and physical exercise will not be continued after chemotherapy treatment has concluded.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-001321
PMCID: PMC3400074  PMID: 22786950
17.  Association between body weight, physical activity and food choices among metropolitan transit workers 
Background
Associations between body weight, physical activity and dietary intake among a population of metropolitan transit workers are described.
Methods
Data were collected during October through December, 2005, as part of the baseline measures for a worksite weight gain prevention intervention in four metro transit bus garages. All garage employees were invited to complete behavioral surveys that assessed food choices and physical activity, and weight and height were directly measured. Seventy-eight percent (N = 1092) of all employees participated.
Results
The prevalence of obesity (BMI >= 30 kg/m2) was 56%. Over half of the transit workers reported consuming fruit (55%) and vegetables (59%) ≥ 3/week. Reported fast food restaurant frequency was low (13% visited ≥ 3/week). Drivers reported high levels of physical activity (eg. walking 93 minutes/day). However, an objective measure of physical activity measured only 16 minutes moderate/vigorous per day. Compared to other drivers, obese drivers reported significantly less vigorous physical activity, more time sitting, and more time watching television. Healthy eating, physical activity and weight management were perceived to be difficult at the worksite, particularly among obese transit workers, and perceived social support for these behaviors was modest. However, most workers perceived weight management and increased physical activity to be personally important for their health.
Conclusion
Although transit workers' self-report of fruit and vegetable intake, and physical activity was high, perceived access to physical activity and healthful eating opportunities at the worksite was low. Obese workers were significantly less physically active and were more likely to report work environmental barriers to physical activity.
doi:10.1186/1479-5868-4-52
PMCID: PMC2200661  PMID: 17980026
18.  Relationship of physical activity to cardiovascular risk factors in an urban population of Nigerian adults 
Background
The burden of chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease (CVD) is increasing rapidly in Nigeria, but fewer studies have evaluated the role of physical activity in the development of CVD in this country. We examined the relationship between health enhancing physical activity and risk factors of CVD in a working population of adults in Maiduguri, Nigeria.
Methods
In a cross-sectional study, we assessed health enhancing moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) among 292 government employees (age: 20–65 years, 40% female, 24% obese and 79.8% response) using the self-administered version of International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ-SF). Time spent in walking and sitting during occupational activity was assessed as well. Anthropometric measurement of height, weight and waist circumference, and blood pressure were also measured. Independent t-test and One- Way ANOVA were conducted, and the relationships between MVPA and body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, blood pressure and heart rate were explored using Pearson correlations coefficients and multiple regression analyses.
Results
The mean time spent in health enhancing MVPA (116.4 ± 101.3 min/wk) was lower than the recommended guideline of 150 min/wk sufficient for health benefits. Compared with men, more women were less physically active, obese and reported more diagnoses of component of metabolic syndrome (p < 0.05). Participants whose work activities were highly sedentary tend to accumulate less minutes of MVPA compared with those who reported their work as moderately active or highly active (p < 0.001). Health enhancing MVPA was inversely related with body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, heart rate, and systolic and diastolic blood pressure (p < 0.05).
Conclusion
Physical activity level of the working population of Nigerian adults was low and was related with adverse risk factors for CVD. Promoting health enhancing physical activity at work places may be important for prevention and control of CVD among the working population in Maiduguri, Nigeria.
doi:10.1186/0778-7367-71-6
PMCID: PMC3635946  PMID: 23578186
Health-related physical activity; Obesity; Chronic diseases; Nigeria
19.  Cost effectiveness of a multi-stage return to work program for workers on sick leave due to low back pain, design of a population based controlled trial [ISRCTN60233560] 
Background
To describe the design of a population based randomized controlled trial (RCT), including a cost-effectiveness analysis, comparing participative ergonomics interventions between 2–8 weeks of sick leave and Graded Activity after 8 weeks of sick leave with usual care, in occupational back pain management.
Methods
Design
An RCT and cost-effectiveness evaluation in employees sick-listed for a period of 2 to 6 weeks due to low back pain. Interventions used are 1. Communication between general practitioner and occupational physician plus Participative Ergonomics protocol performed by an ergonomist. 2. Graded Activity based on cognitive behavioural principles by a physiotherapist. 3. Usual care, provided by an occupational physician according to the Dutch guidelines for the occupational health management of workers with low back pain. The primary outcome measure is return to work. Secondary outcome measures are pain intensity, functional status and general improvement. Intermediate variables are kinesiophobia and pain coping. The cost-effectiveness analysis includes the direct and indirect costs due to low back pain. The outcome measures are assessed before randomization (after 2–6 weeks on sick leave) and 12 weeks, 26 weeks and 52 weeks after first day of sick leave.
Discussion
The combination of these interventions has been subject of earlier research in Canada. The results of the current RCT will: 1. crossvalidate the Canadian findings in an different sociocultural environment; 2. add to the cost-effectiveness on treatment options for workers in the sub acute phase of low back pain. Results might lead to alterations of existing (inter)national guidelines.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-4-26
PMCID: PMC317323  PMID: 14629775
Low back pain; Graded Activity; Participative Ergonomics; Return to work; Randomized Controlled Trial; Cost-effectiveness; Occupational health
20.  Diet and Physical Activity for the Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Systematic Policy Review 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(6):e1001465.
Carl Lachat and colleagues evaluate policies in low- and middle-income countries addressing salt and fat consumption, fruit and vegetable intake, and physical activity, key risk factors for non-communicable diseases.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Diet-related noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are increasing rapidly in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and constitute a leading cause of mortality. Although a call for global action has been resonating for years, the progress in national policy development in LMICs has not been assessed. This review of strategies to prevent NCDs in LMICs provides a benchmark against which policy response can be tracked over time.
Methods and Findings
We reviewed how government policies in LMICs outline actions that address salt consumption, fat consumption, fruit and vegetable intake, or physical activity. A structured content analysis of national nutrition, NCDs, and health policies published between 1 January 2004 and 1 January 2013 by 140 LMIC members of the World Health Organization (WHO) was carried out. We assessed availability of policies in 83% (116/140) of the countries. NCD strategies were found in 47% (54/116) of LMICs reviewed, but only a minority proposed actions to promote healthier diets and physical activity. The coverage of policies that specifically targeted at least one of the risk factors reviewed was lower in Africa, Europe, the Americas, and the Eastern Mediterranean compared to the other two World Health Organization regions, South-East Asia and Western Pacific. Of the countries reviewed, only 12% (14/116) proposed a policy that addressed all four risk factors, and 25% (29/116) addressed only one of the risk factors reviewed. Strategies targeting the private sector were less frequently encountered than strategies targeting the general public or policy makers.
Conclusions
This review indicates the disconnection between the burden of NCDs and national policy responses in LMICs. Policy makers urgently need to develop comprehensive and multi-stakeholder policies to improve dietary quality and physical activity.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs)—chronic medical conditions including cardiovascular diseases (heart disease and stroke), diabetes, cancer, and chronic respiratory diseases (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma)—are responsible for two-thirds of the world's deaths. Nearly 80% of NCD deaths, close to 30 million per year, occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), where they are also rising most rapidly. Diet and lifestyle (including smoking, lack of exercise, and harmful alcohol consumption) influence a person's risk of developing an NCD and of dying from it. Because they can be modified, these risk factors have been at the center of strategies to combat NCDs. In 2004, the World Health Organization (WHO) adopted the Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health. For diet, it recommended that individuals achieve energy balance and a healthy weight; limit energy intake from total fats and shift fat consumption away from saturated fats to unsaturated fats and towards the elimination of trans-fatty acids; increase consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and nuts; limit the intake of free sugars; and limit salt consumption from all sources and ensure that salt is iodized. For physical activity, it recommended at least 30 minutes of regular, moderate-intensity physical activity on most days throughout a person's life.
Why Was This Study Done?
By signing onto the Global Strategy in 2004, WHO member countries agreed to implement it with high priority. A first step of implementation is usually the development of local policies. Consequently, one of the four objectives of the WHO Global Strategy is “to encourage the development, strengthening and implementation of global, regional, national and community policies and action plans to improve diets and increase physical activity.” Along the same lines, in 2011 the United Nations held a high-level meeting in which the need to accelerate the policy response to the NCD epidemic was emphasized. This study was done to assess the existing national policies on NCD prevention in LMICs. Specifically, the researchers examined how well those policies matched the WHO recommendations for intake of salt, fat, and fruits and vegetables, as well as the recommendations for physical activity.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers searched the Internet (including websites of relevant ministries and departments) for all publicly available national policies related to diet, nutrition, NCDs, and health from all 140 WHO member countries classified as LMICs by the World Bank in 2011. For countries for which the search did not turn up policies, the researchers sent e-mail requests to the relevant national authorities, to the regional WHO offices, and to personal contacts. All documents dated from 1 January 2004 to 1 January 2013 that included national objectives and guidelines for action regarding diet, physical exercise, NCD prevention, or a combination of the three, were analyzed in detail.
Most of the policies obtained were not easy to find and access. For 24 countries, particularly in the Eastern Mediterranean, the researchers eventually gave up, unable to establish whether relevant national policies existed. Of the remaining 116 countries, 29 countries had no relevant policies, and another 30 had policies that failed to mention specifically any of the diet-related risk factors included in the analysis. Fifty-four of the 116 countries had NCD policies that addressed at least one of the risk factors. Thirty-six national policy documents contained strategies to increase fruit and vegetable intake, 20 addressed dietary fat consumption, 23 aimed to limit salt intake, and 35 had specific actions to promote physical activity. Only 14 countries, including Jamaica, the Philippines, Iran, and Mongolia, had policies that addressed all four risk factors. The policies of 27 countries mentioned only one of the four risk factors.
Policies primarily targeted consumers and government agencies and failed to address the roles of the business community or civil society. Consistent with this, most were missing plans, mechanisms, and incentives to drive collaborations between the different stakeholders.
What Do These Findings Mean?
More than eight years after the WHO Global Strategy was agreed upon, only a minority of the LMICs included in this analysis have comprehensive policies in place. Developing policies and making them widely accessible is a likely early step toward specific implementation and actions to prevent NCDs. These results therefore suggest that not enough emphasis is placed on NCD prevention in these countries through actions that have been proven to reduce known risk factors. That said, the more important question is what countries are actually doing to combat NCDs, something not directly addressed by this analysis.
In richer countries, NCDs have for decades been the leading cause of sickness and death, and the fact that public health strategies need to emphasize NCD prevention is now widely recognized. LMICs not only have more limited resources, they also continue to carry a large burden from infectious diseases. It is therefore not surprising that shifting resources towards NCD prevention is a difficult process, even if the human cost of these diseases is massive and increasing. That only about 3% of global health aid is aimed at NCD prevention does not help the situation.
The authors argue that one step toward improving the situation is better sharing of best practices and what works and what doesn't in policy development. They suggest that an open-access repository like one that exists for Europe could improve the situation. They offer to organize, host, and curate such a resource under the auspices of WHO, starting with the policies retrieved for this study, and they invite submission of additional policies and updates.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001465.
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Stuckler and Basu
The WHO website on diet and physical activity contains links to various documents, including a diet and physical activity implementation toolbox that contains links to the 2004 Global Strategy document and a Framework to Monitor and Evaluate Implementation
There is a 2011 WHO primer on NCDs entitled Prioritizing a Preventable Epidemic
A recent PLOS Medicine editorial and call for papers addressing the global disparities in the burden from NCDs
A PLOS Blogs post entitled Politics and Global HealthAre We Missing the Obvious? and associated comments discuss the state of the fight against NCDs in early 2013
The NCD Alliance was founded by the Union for International Cancer Control, the International Diabetes Federation, the World Heart Federation, and the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease; its mission is to combat the NCD epidemic by putting health at the center of all policies
The WHO European Database on Nutrition, Obesity and Physical Activity (NOPA) contains national and subnational surveillance data, policy documents, actions to implement policy, and examples of good practice in programs and interventions for the WHO European member states
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001465
PMCID: PMC3679005  PMID: 23776415
21.  Design of a trial-based economic evaluation on the cost-effectiveness of employability interventions among work disabled employees or employees at risk of work disability: The CASE-study 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:43.
Background
In the Netherlands, absenteeism and reduced productivity due to work disability lead to high yearly costs reaching almost 5% of the gross national product. To reduce the economic burden of sick leave and reduced productivity, different employability interventions for work-disabled employees or employees at risk of work disability have been developed. Within this study, called 'CASE-study' (Cost-effectiveness Analysis of Sustainable Employability), five different employability interventions directed at work disabled employees with divergent health complaints will be analysed on their effectiveness and cost-effectiveness. This paper describes a consistent and transparent methodological design to do so.
Methods/design
Per employability intervention 142 participants are needed whereof approximately 66 participants receiving the intervention will be compared with 66 participants receiving usual care. Based on the intervention-specific characteristics, a randomized control trial or a quasi-experiment with match-criteria will be conducted. Notwithstanding the study design, eligible participants will be employees aged 18 to 63, working at least 12 h per week, and at risk of work disability, or already work-disabled due to medical restrictions. The primary outcome will be the duration of sick leave. Secondary outcomes are health status and quality of life. Outcomes will be assessed at baseline and then 6, 12 and 18 months later. Economic costs will consist of healthcare costs and cost of lost production due to work disability, and will be evaluated from a societal perspective.
Discussion
The CASE-study is the first to conduct economic evaluations of multiple different employability interventions based on a similar methodological framework. The cost-effectiveness results for every employability intervention will be published in 2014, but the methods, strengths and weaknesses of the study protocol are discussed in this paper. To contribute to treatment options in occupational health practice and enable the development of guidelines on how to conduct economic evaluation better suited to this field; this paper provides an important first step.
Trial registration
Four trials involved in the CASE-study are registered with the Netherlands Trial Registry: Care for Work (NTR2886), Health and Motion (NTR3111), Guidance to Excel in Return to Work (NTR3151), Care for Companies/Second Care (NTR3136).
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-43
PMCID: PMC3273437  PMID: 22257557
Economic evaluation; Cost effectiveness; Employability; Return-to-Work; Work disability
22.  Empowering employees with chronic diseases; development of an intervention aimed at job retention and design of a randomised controlled trial 
Background
Persons with a chronic disease are less often employed than healthy persons. If employed, many of them experience problems at work. Therefore, we developed a training programme aimed at job retention. The objective of this paper is to describe this intervention and to present the design of a study to evaluate its effectiveness.
Development and description of intervention
A systematic review, a needs assessment and discussions with Dutch experts led to a pilot group training, tested in a pilot study. The evaluation resulted in the development of a seven-session group training combined with three individual counselling sessions. The training is based on an empowerment perspective that aims to help individuals enhance knowledge, skills and self-awareness. These advances are deemed necessary for problem solving in three stages: exploration and clarification of work related problems, communication at the workplace, and development and implementation of solutions. Seven themes are discussed and practised in the group sessions: 1) Consequences of a chronic disease in the workplace, 2) Insight into feelings and thoughts about having a chronic disease, 3) Communication in daily work situations, 4) Facilities for disabled employees and work disability legislation, 5) How to stand up for oneself, 6) A plan to solve problems, 7) Follow-up.
Methods
Participants are recruited via occupational health services, patient organisations, employers, and a yearly national conference on chronic diseases. They are eligible when they have a chronic physical medical condition, have a paid job, and experience problems at work. Workers on long-term, 100% sick leave that is expected to continue during the training are excluded. After filling in the baseline questionnaire, the participants are randomised to either the control or the intervention group. The control group will receive no care or care as usual. Post-test mail questionnaires will be sent after 4, 8, 12 and 24 months. Primary outcome measures are job retention, self efficacy, fatigue and work pleasure. Secondary outcome measures are work-related problems, sick leave, quality of life, acquired work accommodations, burnout, and several quality of work measures. A process evaluation will be conducted and satisfaction with the training, its components and the training methods will be assessed.
Discussion
Many employees with a chronic condition experience problems in performing tasks and in managing social relations at work. We developed an innovative intervention that addresses practical as well as psychosocial problems. The results of the study will be relevant for employees, employers, occupational health professionals and human resource professionals (HRM).
Trial registration
ISRCTN77240155
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-8-224
PMCID: PMC2614990  PMID: 18983652
23.  Association of Lifecourse Socioeconomic Status with Chronic Inflammation and Type 2 Diabetes Risk: The Whitehall II Prospective Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(7):e1001479.
Silvia Stringhini and colleagues followed a group of British civil servants over 18 years to look for links between socioeconomic status and health.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Socioeconomic adversity in early life has been hypothesized to “program” a vulnerable phenotype with exaggerated inflammatory responses, so increasing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in adulthood. The aim of this study is to test this hypothesis by assessing the extent to which the association between lifecourse socioeconomic status and type 2 diabetes incidence is explained by chronic inflammation.
Methods and Findings
We use data from the British Whitehall II study, a prospective occupational cohort of adults established in 1985. The inflammatory markers C-reactive protein and interleukin-6 were measured repeatedly and type 2 diabetes incidence (new cases) was monitored over an 18-year follow-up (from 1991–1993 until 2007–2009). Our analytical sample consisted of 6,387 non-diabetic participants (1,818 women), of whom 731 (207 women) developed type 2 diabetes over the follow-up. Cumulative exposure to low socioeconomic status from childhood to middle age was associated with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in adulthood (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.96, 95% confidence interval: 1.48–2.58 for low cumulative lifecourse socioeconomic score and HR = 1.55, 95% confidence interval: 1.26–1.91 for low-low socioeconomic trajectory). 25% of the excess risk associated with cumulative socioeconomic adversity across the lifecourse and 32% of the excess risk associated with low-low socioeconomic trajectory was attributable to chronically elevated inflammation (95% confidence intervals 16%–58%).
Conclusions
In the present study, chronic inflammation explained a substantial part of the association between lifecourse socioeconomic disadvantage and type 2 diabetes. Further studies should be performed to confirm these findings in population-based samples, as the Whitehall II cohort is not representative of the general population, and to examine the extent to which social inequalities attributable to chronic inflammation are reversible.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Worldwide, more than 350 million people have diabetes, a metabolic disorder characterized by high amounts of glucose (sugar) in the blood. Blood sugar levels are normally controlled by insulin, a hormone released by the pancreas after meals (digestion of food produces glucose). In people with type 2 diabetes (the commonest form of diabetes) blood sugar control fails because the fat and muscle cells that normally respond to insulin by removing sugar from the blood become insulin resistant. Type 2 diabetes, which was previously called adult-onset diabetes, can be controlled with diet and exercise, and with drugs that help the pancreas make more insulin or that make cells more sensitive to insulin. However, as the disease progresses, the pancreatic beta cells, which make insulin, become impaired and patients may eventually need insulin injections. Long-term complications, which include an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, reduce the life expectancy of people with diabetes by about 10 years compared to people without diabetes.
Why Was This Study Done?
Socioeconomic adversity in childhood seems to increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes but why? One possibility is that chronic inflammation mediates the association between socioeconomic adversity and type 2 diabetes. Inflammation, which is the body's normal response to injury and disease, affects insulin signaling and increases beta-cell death, and markers of inflammation such as raised blood levels of C-reactive protein and interleukin 6 are associated with future diabetes risk. Notably, socioeconomic adversity in early life leads to exaggerated inflammatory responses later in life and people exposed to social adversity in adulthood show greater levels of inflammation than people with a higher socioeconomic status. In this prospective cohort study (an investigation that records the baseline characteristics of a group of people and then follows them to see who develops specific conditions), the researchers test the hypothesis that chronically increased inflammatory activity in individuals exposed to socioeconomic adversity over their lifetime may partly mediate the association between socioeconomic status over the lifecourse and future type 2 diabetes risk.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
To assess the extent to which chronic inflammation explains the association between lifecourse socioeconomic status and type 2 diabetes incidence (new cases), the researchers used data from the Whitehall II study, a prospective occupational cohort study initiated in 1985 to investigate the mechanisms underlying previously observed socioeconomic inequalities in disease. Whitehall II enrolled more than 10,000 London-based government employees ranging from clerical/support staff to administrative officials and monitored inflammatory marker levels and type 2 diabetes incidence in the study participants from 1991–1993 until 2007–2009. Of 6,387 participants who were not diabetic in 1991–1993, 731 developed diabetes during the 18-year follow-up. Compared to participants with the highest cumulative lifecourse socioeconomic score (calculated using information on father's occupational position and the participant's educational attainment and occupational position), participants with the lowest score had almost double the risk of developing diabetes during follow-up. Low lifetime socioeconomic status trajectories (being socially downwardly mobile or starting and ending with a low socioeconomic status) were also associated with an increased risk of developing diabetes in adulthood. A quarter of the excess risk associated with cumulative socioeconomic adversity and nearly a third of the excess risk associated with low socioeconomic trajectory was attributable to chronically increased inflammation.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show a robust association between adverse socioeconomic circumstances over the lifecourse of the Whitehall II study participants and the risk of type 2 diabetes and suggest that chronic inflammation explains up to a third of this association. The accuracy of these findings may be affected by the measures of socioeconomic status used in the study. Moreover, because the study participants were from an occupational cohort, these findings need to be confirmed in a general population. Studies are also needed to examine the extent to which social inequalities in diabetes risk that are attributable to chronic inflammation are reversible. Importantly, if future studies confirm and extend the findings reported here, it might be possible to reduce the social inequalities in type 2 diabetes by promoting interventions designed to reduce inflammation, including weight management, physical activity, and smoking cessation programs and the use of anti-inflammatory drugs, among socially disadvantaged groups.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001479.
The US National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse provides information about diabetes for patients, health-care professionals, and the general public, including information on diabetes prevention (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information for patients and carers about type 2 diabetes; it includes peoples stories about diabetes
The nonprofit Diabetes UK also provides detailed information about diabetes for patients and carers, including information on healthy lifestyles for people with diabetes, and has a further selection of stories from people with diabetes; the nonprofit Healthtalkonline has interviews with people about their experiences of diabetes
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources and advice about diabetes (in English and Spanish)
Information about the Whitehall II study is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001479
PMCID: PMC3699448  PMID: 23843750
24.  Consumer satisfaction with occupational health services: should it be measured? 
OBJECTIVES—To find answers in the literature to the questions if, why, and how consumer satisfaction with occupational health services (OHSs) should be measured.
METHODS—Publications about the concept of consumer satisfaction with health care and surveys of consumer satisfaction with occupational health care were reviewed.
RESULTS—For care providers, surveys of consumer satisfaction can be useful to improve quality or as indicators of non-compliant behaviour among patients. For clients, satisfaction surveys can be helpful for choosing between healthcare providers. Satisfaction is made up of an affective component of evaluation and a cognitive component of expectations. Also, in occupational health care, patient satisfaction is measured by dimensions such as the humanness and competence of the care provider similar to health care in general. However, there are dimensions that are specific to occupational health—such as the perceived independence of the physician, unclear reasons for visiting an OHS, and the perceived extent of knowledge of OHS professionals about the patient's working conditions. Dimensions of client satisfaction are mostly similar to patient satisfaction but include more businesslike aspects. They are different for the two groups of client, employers and employees. To measure consumer satisfaction in occupational healthcare specific questionnaires must be constructed. To achieve the highest possible reader satisfaction guidelines are provided for construction of a questionnaire.
CONCLUSIONS—Consumer satisfaction is a complex theoretical concept, but it is relatively easy to measure in practice and can be a valuable tool for quality improvement. Consumers' evaluations of occupational health services will become increasingly important due to changes in the organisation of occupational health care. Occupational healthcare providers are encouraged to measure the consumer satisfaction of their services.


Keywords: consumer satisfaction; occupational health services
doi:10.1136/oem.58.4.272
PMCID: PMC1740125  PMID: 11245745
25.  Randomised controlled trial of a psychiatric consultation model for treatment of common mental disorder in the occupational health setting 
Background
Common mental disorders are the most prevalent of all mental disorders, with the highest burden in terms of work absenteeism and utilization of health care services. Evidence-based treatments are available, but recognition and treatment could be improved, especially in the occupational health setting. The situation in this setting has recently changed in the Netherlands because of new legislation, which has resulted in reduced sickness absence. Severe mental disorder has now become one of the main causes of work absenteeism. Occupational physicians (OPs) are expected to take an active role in diagnosis and treatment, and seem to be in need of support for a new approach to handle cases of more complex mental disorders. Psychiatric consultation can be a collaborative care model to achieve this.
Methods/design
This is a two-armed cluster-randomized clinical trial, with randomization among OPs. Forty OPs in two big companies providing medical care for multiple companies will be randomized to either the intervention group, i.e. psychiatric consultation embedded in a training programme, or the control group, i.e. only training aimed at recognition and providing Care As Usual. 60 patients will be included who have been absent from work for 6–52 weeks and who, after screening and a MINI interview, are diagnosed with depressive disorder, anxiety disorder or somatoform disorder based on DSM-IV criteria. Baseline measurements and follow up measurements (at 3 months and 6 months) will be assessed with questionnaires and an interview. The primary outcome measure is level of general functioning according to the SF-20. Secondary measures are severity of the mental disorder according to the PHQ and the SCL-90, quality of life (EQ-D5), measures of Return To Work and cost-effectiveness of the treatment assessed with the TiC-P. Process measures will be adherence to the treatment plan and assessment of the treatment provided by the Psychiatric Consultant (PC) in both groups.
Discussion
In the current study, a psychiatric consultation model that has already proved to be effective in the primary care setting, and aimed to enhance evidence-based care for patients with work absenteeism and common mental disorder will be evaluated for its efficacy and cost-effectiveness in the occupational health setting.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-7-29
PMCID: PMC1810250  PMID: 17326830

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