Common mental disorders, such as depression, anxiety disorder, and adjustment disorder, have emerged as a major public and occupational health problem in many countries. These disorders can have severe consequences such as absenteeism and work disability. Different interventions have been developed to improve the return-to-work of employees with common mental disorders, but still a large proportion of employees experiences health and work problems after their return-to-work. For this reason, the SHARP-at work intervention is developed to prevent a relapse of sickness absence among employees who have returned to work after a period of sickness absence because of common mental disorders. We aim to evaluate the effectiveness, cost-benefit and process of the intervention compared to care as usual.
The study is designed as a cluster-randomised controlled trial with randomisation at the level of the occupational physician. Employees who have returned to work after a period of sickness absence because of a common mental disorder are included in the study. Employees in the intervention group will receive the SHARP-at work intervention. The intervention focusses on active guidance of employees by occupational physicians during the first weeks of work after sickness absence. Employees in the control group will receive care as usual. Outcomes will be assessed at baseline and at 3, 6, and 12 months follow-up. The primary outcome is cumulative recurrent sickness absence days. Secondary outcome measures are mental health, work functioning, and coping. Adherence to the protocol, communication between stakeholders, and satisfaction with the treatment are the process measures assessed in both study groups. Cost-benefit is calculated from a societal perspective. Finally, prognostic factors for a relapse of sickness absence are investigated.
This study goes beyond return-to-work by focussing on the prevention of recurrent sickness absence. The study incorporates not only outcomes on sickness absence and mental health but also on health-related work functioning. The results of this study can contribute to a further development of practice guidelines and the promotion of sustainable work participation.
To date, mental health problems and mental workload have been increasingly related to long-term sick leave and disability. However, there is, as yet, no structured protocol available for the identification and application of an intervention for stress-related mental health problems at the workplace. This paper describes the structured development, implementation and planning for the evaluation of a return-to-work intervention for sick-listed employees with stress-related mental disorders (SMDs). The intervention is based on an existing successful return-to-work intervention for sick-listed employees with low back pain.
The principles of Intervention Mapping were applied to combine theory and evidence in the development, implementation and planning for the evaluation of a participatory workplace intervention, aimed at an early return-to-work for sick-listed employees with SMDs. All stakeholders were involved in focus group interviews: i.e. employees recently sick-listed with SMDs, supervisors and occupational health professionals.
The development of the participatory workplace intervention according to the Intervention Mapping principles resulted in a structured return-to-work intervention, specifically tailored to the needs of sick-listed employees with SMDs. Return-to-work was proposed as a behavioural change, and the Attitude – Social influence – self-Efficacy model was identified as a theoretical framework. Stakeholder involvement in focus group interviews served to enhance the implementation. The cost-effectiveness of the intervention will be evaluated in a randomised controlled trial.
Intervention Mapping was found to be a promising method to develop interventions tailored to a specific target group in the field of occupational health.
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.
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.
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.
Low back pain; Graded Activity; Participative Ergonomics; Return to work; Randomized Controlled Trial; Cost-effectiveness; Occupational health
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN34887348
There is an urgent need for more carefully developed public health measures in order to curb the obesity epidemic among youth. The overall aim of the "EuropeaN Energy balance Research to prevent excessive weight Gain among Youth" (ENERGY)-project is the development and formative evaluation of a theory-informed and evidence-based multi-component school-based and family-involved intervention program ready to be implemented and evaluated for effectiveness across Europe. This program aims at promoting the adoption or continuation of health behaviors that contribute to a healthy energy balance among school-aged children. Earlier studies have indicated that school and family environments are key determinants of energy-balance behaviors in schoolchildren. Schools are an important setting for health promotion in this age group, but school-based interventions mostly fail to target and involve the family environment.
Led by a multidisciplinary team of researchers from eleven European countries and supported by a team of Australian experts, the ENERGY-project is informed by the Environmental Research Framework for Weight gain Prevention, and comprises a comprehensive epidemiological analysis including 1) systematic reviews of the literature, 2) secondary analyses of existing data, 3) focus group research, and 4) a cross European school-based survey.
Results and discussion
The theoretical framework and the epidemiological analysis will subsequently inform stepwise intervention development targeting the most relevant energy balance-related behaviors and their personal, family-environmental and school-environmental determinants applying the Intervention Mapping protocol. The intervention scheme will undergo formative and pilot evaluation in five countries. The results of ENERGY will be disseminated among key stakeholders including researchers, policy makers and the general population.
The ENERGY-project is an international, multidisciplinary effort to develop and test an evidence-based and theory-informed intervention program for obesity prevention among school-aged children.
The purpose of the study was to evaluate a 6-month intervention to promote office-employees’ walking with pedometers and e-mail messages.
Participants were recruited by 10 occupational health care units (OHC) from 20 worksites with 2,230 employees. Voluntary and insufficiently physically active employees (N = 241) were randomized to a pedometer (STEP, N = 123) and a comparison group (COMP, N = 118). STEP included one group meeting, log-monitored pedometer-use and six e-mail messages from OHC. COMP participated in data collection. Reach, effectiveness, adoption, implementation, maintenance (RE-AIM) and costs were assessed with questionnaires (0, 2, 6, 12 months), process evaluation and interviews (12 months).
The intervention reached 29% (N = 646) of employees in terms of participation willingness. Logistic regression showed that the proportion of walkers tended to increase more in STEP than in COMP at 2 months in “walking for transportation” (Odds ratio 2.12, 95%CI 0.94 to 4.81) and at 6 months in “walking for leisure” (1.86, 95%CI 0.94 to 3.69). Linear model revealed a modest increase in the mean duration of “walking stairs” at 2 and 6 months (Geometric mean ratio 1.26, 95%CI 0.98 to 1.61; 1.27, 0.98 to 1.64). Adoption and implementation succeeded as intended. At 12 months, some traces of the intervention were sustained in 15 worksites, and a slightly higher number of walkers in STEP in comparison with COMP was observed in “walking stairs” (OR 2.24, 95%CI 0.94 to 5.31) and in “walking for leisure” (2.07, 95%CI 0.99 to 4.34). The direct costs of the intervention were 43 Euros per participant.
The findings indicate only modest impact on some indicators of walking. Future studies should invest in reaching the employees, minimizing attrition rate and using objective walking assessment.
Physical activity; Health promotion; pedometer; intervention; worksite; evaluation; RE-AIM
Because of high demands at work, nurses are at high risk for occupational burnout and physical complaints. The presence of job resources (such as job autonomy or social support) and recovery opportunities could counteract the adverse effect of high job demands. However, it is still unclear how job resources and recovery opportunities can be translated into effective workplace interventions aiming to improve employee health, well-being, and performance-related outcomes. The aim of the current research project is developing and implementing interventions to optimize job resources and recovery opportunities, which may lead to improved health, well-being and performance of nurses.
The DIRECT-project (DIsc Risk Evaluating Controlled Trial) is a longitudinal, quasi-experimental field study. Nursing home staff of 4 intervention wards and 4 comparison wards will be involved. Based on the results of a base-line survey, interventions will be implemented to optimize job resources and recovery opportunities. After 12 and 24 month the effect of the interventions will be investigated with follow-up surveys. Additionally, a process evaluation will be conducted to map factors that either stimulated or hindered successful implementation as well as the effectiveness of the interventions.
The DIRECT-project fulfils a strong need for intervention research in the field of work, stress, performance, and health. The results could reveal (1) how interventions can be tailored to optimize job resources and recovery opportunities, in order to counteract job demands, and (2) what the effects of these interventions will be on health, well-being, and performance of nursing staff.
There is strong evidence to suggest that multiple work-related health problems are preceded by a higher need for recovery. Physical activity and relaxation are helpful in decreasing the need for recovery. This article aims to describe (1) the development and (2) the design of the evaluation of a daily physical activity and relaxation intervention to reduce the need for recovery in office employees.
The study population will consist of employees of a Dutch financial service provider. The intervention was systematically developed, based on parts of the Intervention Mapping (IM) protocol. Assessment of employees needs was done by combining results of face-to-face interviews, a questionnaire and focus group interviews. A set of theoretical methods and practical strategies were selected which resulted in an intervention program consisting of Group Motivational Interviewing (GMI) supported by a social media platform, and environmental modifications. The Be Active & Relax program will be evaluated in a modified 2 X 2 factorial design. The environmental modifications will be pre-stratified and GMI will be randomised on department level. The program will be evaluated, using 4 arms: (1) GMI and environmental modifications; (2) environmental modifications; (3) GMI; (4) no intervention (control group). Questionnaire data on the primary outcome (need for recovery) and secondary outcomes (daily physical activity, sedentary behaviour, relaxation/detachment, work- and health-related factors) will be gathered at baseline (T0), at 6 months (T1), and at 12 months (T2) follow-up. In addition, an economic and a process evaluation will be performed.
Reducing the need for recovery is hypothesized to be beneficial for employees, employers and society. It is assumed that there will be a reduction in need for recovery after 6 months and 12 months in the intervention group, compared to the control group. Results are expected in 2013.
Netherlands Trial Register (NTR): NTR2553
Need for recovery; Relaxation; Physical activity; Environmental modifications; Group motivational interviewing; Employees; RCT
In the past decade in activities aiming at return-to-work (RTW), there has been a growing awareness to change the focus from sickness and work disability to recovery and work ability. To date, this process in occupational health care (OHC) has mainly been directed towards employees. However, within the working population there are two vulnerable groups: temporary agency workers and unemployed workers, since they have no workplace/employer to return to, when sick-listed. For this group there is a need for tailored RTW strategies and interventions. Therefore, this paper aims to describe the structured and stepwise process of development, implementation and evaluation of a theory- and practise-based participatory RTW program for temporary agency workers and unemployed workers, sick-listed due to musculoskeletal disorders (MSD). This program is based on the already developed and cost-effective RTW program for employees, sick-listed due to low back pain.
The Intervention Mapping (IM) protocol was used to develop a tailor-made RTW program for temporary agency workers and unemployed workers, sick-listed due to MSD. The Attitude-Social influence-self-Efficacy (ASE) model was used as a theoretical framework for determinants of behaviour regarding RTW of the sick-listed worker and development of the intervention. To ensure participation and facilitate successful adoption and implementation, important stakeholders were involved in all steps of program development and implementation. Results of semi-structured interviews and 'fine-tuning' meetings were used to design the final participatory RTW program.
A structured stepwise RTW program was developed, aimed at making a consensus-based RTW implementation plan. The new program starts with identifying obstacles for RTW, followed by a brainstorm session in which the sick-listed worker and the labour expert of the Social Security Agency (SSA) formulate solutions/possibilities for suitable (therapeutic) work. This process is guided by an independent RTW coordinator to achieve consensus. Based on the resulting RTW implementation plan, to create an actual RTW perspective, a vocational rehabilitation agency is assigned to find a matching (therapeutic) workplace. The cost-effectiveness of this participatory RTW program will be evaluated in a randomised controlled trial.
IM is a promising tool for the development of tailor-made OHC interventions for the vulnerable working population.
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.
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.
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.
Common mental disorders; Sick leave; Return-to-work; Occupational health service; Occupational physicians; Guideline adherence; Guideline-based care
Aims: To evaluate the effect of implementation of an evidence based skin care programme for wet work employees as part of an occupational health and safety management system.
Methods: 375 wet work employees were included in a prospective randomised controlled trial, allocated to either intervention (n = 207) or control (n = 168). The intervention group was exposed to a skin care programme during the five month study period. The intervention included an educational programme for a group of frontline employees, who underwent formalised training, and subsequently introduced the information to their colleagues. As part of the intervention a skin care policy including written instructions was established at each workplace. Both groups answered a test quiz, completed questionnaires on behaviour and symptoms, and underwent clinical examination of their hands before and after the five month period.
Results: No difference between the intervention and the control group was found at baseline with respect to clinical symptoms or behaviour. Evaluation after the five months of intervention revealed a significantly higher information level on skin care in the intervention group compared to the control group, a significant change in behaviour in the intervention group but not in the control group, and significantly less skin symptoms as evaluated clinically in the intervention group but not in the control group. No significant difference was found for self reported skin problems.
Conclusions: The intervention was successful with respect to information level (knowledge), behaviour, and clinical symptoms. Implementation of a skin care programme as part of an occupational health and safety management system is recommended as a prophylactic measure for employees in wet occupations.
Computer tailoring may be a promising technique for prevention of overweight in adolescents. However, very few well-developed, evidence-based computer-tailored interventions are available for this target group. We developed and evaluated a computer-tailored intervention for adolescents targeting energy balance-related behaviours: i.e. consumption of snacks, sugar-sweetened beverages, fruit, vegetables, and fibre, physical activity, and sedentary behaviours. This paper describes the planned development of a school-based computer-tailored intervention aimed at improving energy balance-related behaviours in order to prevent excessive weight gain in adolescents, and the protocol for evaluating this intervention.
Intervention development: Informed by the Precaution Adoption Process Model and the Theory of Planned Behaviour, the computer-tailored intervention provided feedback on personal behaviour and suggestions on how to modify it. The intervention (VETisnietVET translated as 'FATaintPHAT') has been developed for use in the first year of secondary school during eight lessons.
Evaluation design: The intervention will be evaluated in a cluster-randomised trial including 20 schools with a 4-months and a 2-years follow-up. Outcome measures are BMI, waist circumference, energy balance-related behaviours, and potential determinants of these behaviours. Process measures are appreciation of and satisfaction with the program, exposure to the program's content, and implementation facilitators and barriers measured among students and teachers.
This project resulted in a theory and evidence-based intervention that can be implemented in a school setting. A large-scale randomised controlled trial with a short and long-term follow-up will provide sound statements about the effectiveness of this computer-tailored intervention in adolescents.
U.S. adults are at unprecedented risk of becoming overweight or obese, and most scientists believe the primary cause is an obesogenic environment. Worksites provide an opportunity to shape the environments of adults to reduce obesity risk. The goal of this group-randomized trial was to implement a four-component environmental intervention at the worksite level to positively influence weight gain among employees over a two-year period. Environmental components focused on food availability and price, physical activity promotion, scale access, and media enhancements.
Six worksites in a U.S. metropolitan area were recruited and randomized in pairs at the worksite level to either a two-year intervention or a no-contact control. Evaluations at baseline and two years included: 1) measured height and weight; 2) online surveys of individual dietary intake and physical activity behaviors; and 3) detailed worksite environment assessment.
Mean participant age was 42.9 years (range 18-75), 62.6% were women, 68.5% were married or cohabiting, 88.6% were white, 2.1% Hispanic. Mean baseline BMI was 28.5 kg/m2 (range 16.9-61.2 kg/m2). A majority of intervention components were successfully implemented. However, there were no differences between sites in the key outcome of weight change over the two-year study period (p = .36).
Body mass was not significantly affected by environmental changes implemented for the trial. Results raise questions about whether environmental change at worksites is sufficient for population weight gain prevention.
Obesity; Worksites; Adults; Environment; Weight gain prevention
Tobacco use adversely affects oral health. Clinical guidelines recommend that dental providers promote tobacco abstinence and provide patients who use tobacco with brief tobacco use cessation counselling. Research shows that these guidelines are seldom implemented, however. To improve guideline adherence and to develop effective interventions, it is essential to understand provider behaviour and challenges to implementation. This study aimed to develop a theoretically informed measure for assessing among dental providers implementation difficulties related to tobacco use prevention and cessation (TUPAC) counselling guidelines, to evaluate those difficulties among a sample of dental providers, and to investigate a possible underlying structure of applied theoretical domains.
A 35-item questionnaire was developed based on key theoretical domains relevant to the implementation behaviours of healthcare providers. Specific items were drawn mostly from the literature on TUPAC counselling studies of healthcare providers. The data were collected from dentists (n = 73) and dental hygienists (n = 22) in 36 dental clinics in Finland using a web-based survey. Of 95 providers, 73 participated (76.8%). We used Cronbach's alpha to ascertain the internal consistency of the questionnaire. Mean domain scores were calculated to assess different aspects of implementation difficulties and exploratory factor analysis to assess the theoretical domain structure. The authors agreed on the labels assigned to the factors on the basis of their component domains and the broader behavioural and theoretical literature.
Internal consistency values for theoretical domains varied from 0.50 ('emotion') to 0.71 ('environmental context and resources'). The domain environmental context and resources had the lowest mean score (21.3%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 17.2 to 25.4) and was identified as a potential implementation difficulty. The domain emotion provided the highest mean score (60%; 95% CI, 55.0 to 65.0). Three factors were extracted that explain 70.8% of the variance: motivation (47.6% of variance, α = 0.86), capability (13.3% of variance, α = 0.83), and opportunity (10.0% of variance, α = 0.71).
This study demonstrated a theoretically informed approach to identifying possible implementation difficulties in TUPAC counselling among dental providers. This approach provides a method for moving from diagnosing implementation difficulties to designing and evaluating interventions.
Aims: To evaluate an occupational health intervention programme for workers at risk for early retirement.
Methods: Between April 1997 and May 1998, 116 employees of a large company who were older than 50 years indicated that they would not be able to work up to their retirement. They were randomly assigned to an intervention (n = 61) or control group (n = 55). The intervention programme lasted six months and was executed by an occupational physician. Job position and number of sick leave days after two years were collected from the company's computer database. A questionnaire was sent to the employees at baseline, after six months, and after two years; it included the Work Ability Index, the Utrecht Burn Out Scale, and the Nottingham Health Profile measuring quality of life.
Results: Fewer employees (11%) in the intervention group retired early than in the control group (28%). The total average number of sick leave days in two years was 82.3 for the intervention group and 107.8 for the control group. Six months after baseline, employees in the intervention group had better work ability, less burnout, and better quality of life than employees in the control group. Two years after randomisation no differences between the two groups were found.
Conclusions: This occupational health intervention programme proved to be a promising intervention in the prevention of early retirement.
Continued improvements in occupational health can only be ensured if decisions regarding the implementation and continuation of occupational health and safety interventions (OHS interventions) are based on the best available evidence. To ensure that this is the case, scientific evidence should meet the needs of decision-makers. As a first step in bridging the gap between the economic evaluation literature and daily practice in occupational health, this study aimed to provide insight into the occupational health decision-making process and information needs of decision-makers.
An exploratory qualitative study was conducted with a purposeful sample of occupational health decision-makers in the Ontario healthcare sector. Eighteen in-depth interviews were conducted to explore the process by which occupational health decisions are made and the importance given to the financial implications of OHS interventions. Twenty-five structured telephone interviews were conducted to explore the sources of information used during the decision-making process, and decision-makers’ knowledge on economic evaluation methods. In-depth interview data were analyzed according to the constant comparative method. For the structured telephone interviews, summary statistics were prepared.
The occupational health decision-making process generally consists of three stages: initiation stage, establishing the need for an intervention; pre-implementation stage, developing an intervention and its business case in order to receive senior management approval; and implementation and evaluation stage, implementing and evaluating an intervention. During this process, information on the financial implications of OHS interventions was found to be of great importance, especially the employer’s costs and benefits. However, scientific evidence was rarely consulted, sound ex-post program evaluations were hardly ever performed, and there seemed to be a need to advance the economic evaluation skill set of decision-makers.
Financial information is particularly important at the front end of implementation decisions, and can be a key deciding factor of whether to go forward with a new OHS intervention. In addition, it appears that current practice in occupational health in the healthcare sector is not solidly grounded in evidence-based decision-making and strategies should be developed to improve this.
Occupational health and safety; Interventions; Decision-making process; Information needs; Evidence-based practice
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.
Occupational health services; Health policy; Risk assessment; Risk management; Occupational health and safety management system
Occupational infection is a human disease caused by work-associated exposure to microbial agents through human and environmental contact. According to the literature, occupational infection was the third leading cause of occupational disease (861 cases, 8.0%), and health care, agricultural, forestry, and fishery workers were risk groups in Korea. In addition, most high-risk groups have not been protected by workers' compensation, which could lead to underestimation of the exact spectrum and magnitude of the problem, and may also result in a lack of development and implementation of occupational infection management. Through a review of national guidelines and documentations on prevention and control of occupational infection, a management strategy would promote adherence to worker safety regulations if it is explicit with regard to the agent and mode of infection in each of the high-risk groups.
Occupational; Infectious Disease; Korea; Health Care Workers; Viral Hepatitis; Tuberculosis
To evaluate the effectiveness of two occupational health intervention programmes, both compared with usual care.
Based on a health survey, 1341 employees (88% males) in construction, service and maintenance work were classified into three groups: “low risk” (n = 386), “intermediate risk” (n = 537) and “high risk” (n = 418) of sickness absence. Two separate randomised trials were performed in the groups “high risk” and “intermediate risk”, respectively. Those high risk subjects that were allocated to the intervention group (n = 209) were invited to occupational health service for a consultation. The intervention included, if appropriate, a referral to specialist treatment. Among the intermediate risk employees those in the intervention group (n = 268) were invited to call a phone advice centre. In both trials the control group received usual occupational health care. The primary outcome was sickness absence during a 12-month follow-up (register data).
The high risk group, representing 31% of the cohort, accounted for 62% of sickness absence days. In the trial for the high risk group the mean sickness absence was 30 days in the usual care group and 19 days in the intervention group; the mean difference was 11 days (95% CI 1 to 20 days). In the trial for the intermediate risk group the mean sickness absence was 7 days in both arms (95% CI of the mean difference –2.3 to 2.4 days).
The identification of high risk of work disability was successful. The occupational health intervention was effective in controlling work loss to a degree that is likely to be economically advantageous within the high risk group. The phone advice intervention for the intermediate risk group was not effective in controlling work loss primarily due to poor adherence.
More knowledge is needed regarding the effectiveness of weight gain prevention programmes. The present study tested the 12-and 24-month effectiveness of the 'Netherlands Research programme weight Gain prevention' (NHF-NRG)-In Balance-project, a worksite-based intervention aimed at the prevention of weight gain.
Twelve worksites (n = 553 participants) were matched and assigned to either intervention or control group. The worksites and employees of the intervention group received individual (i.e. pedometer, computer-tailored advice) and environmental (i.e. changes in worksite canteen) interventions, directed at physical activity and food intake over 1-year. Differences between the intervention and control group in changes in body weight, BMI, skinfold thickness and waist circumference at 12 and 24 months were examined using multilevel linear regression analyses adjusting for various baseline characteristics (age, gender, BMI, marital status, education and smoking status).
A significant greater reduction in skinfold thickness was found in the intervention group than in the control group, both after 12-and 24 months (Unstandardized regression coefficients (B) = -2.52, 95% C.I. -4.58, -0.45; p = 0.018; B = -4.83, 95% C.I. 6.98, -2.67; p < 0.001 respectively). Significant differences were also observed for changes in waist circumferences both at 12 months (B = -1.50, 95% C.I. -2.35, -0.65; p < 0.001) and at 24 months (B = -1.30, 95% C.I. -2.18, -0.42; p = 0.005). No significant changes were observed for weight and BMI.
The project was effective with regard to changes in skinfold thickness and waist circumference both at 12 and 24 months. It supports the usefulness of worksite-based prevention, especially regarding maintenance of behavioral changes.
Aims: To assess the quality of occupational rehabilitation for patients with adjustment disorders and to determine whether high quality of care is related to a shorter period of sickness absence.
Methods: A retrospective cohort study was conducted by means of an audit of 100 files of patients with adjustment disorders who visited their occupational physicians. Quality of rehabilitation was assessed by means of 10 performance indicators, derived from the guidelines for the treatment of employees with mental health disorders. Performance was dichotomised into optimal and deviant care according to explicit criteria. The performance rates were related to time until work resumption during a one year follow up period. Kaplan-Meier survival analyses and Cox proportional hazards analysis were used to study this relation.
Results: Four of 10 performance rates were below 50%: continuity of care (34%), interventions aimed at providers of care in the curative sector (39%), assessment of impediments in the return to work process (41%), and assessment of symptoms (45%). The highest performance rate concerned assessment of work related causes (94%). Overall optimal care was found in 10% of the cases. Median time to complete recovery was 195 days (IQR 97 to 365), and 73% of all patients recovered completely after one year. Optimal continuity of care was significantly related to a shorter time to both partial and complete work resumption (hazard ratio (HR) 0.3; CI 0.2 to 0.6) independently of other performance indicators. Performance regarding interventions aimed at the organisation was also related to a shorter time until first return to work (HR 0.5; CI 0.3 to 0.9).
Conclusions: This study shows that the rehabilitation process of employees with adjustment disorders leaves significant room for improvement, especially with regard to continuity of care. Quality of care was partly related to a better outcome. More rigorous study designs are needed to corroborate these findings.
Many employers are interested in helping their employees improve and maintain health through a program of preventive medicine designed to supplement health services which already exist in the community. The objectives of such a health program can be attained only through team work between physicians, both within and outside industry. Such specific objectives as the development of measures for the maintenance and improvement of health and the prevention of disease; the provision of readily available diagnostic, treatment and counselling services; the rehabilitation of disabled employees; and the effective administration of sick-benefit plans require the closest communication and co-operation among the occupational health service, the private physician, and other health and welfare agencies. Only by such liaison can the maximum benefits of both preventive and curative medicine be extended to the employee—in his best interest as well as that of the community and the employer.
Return to work (RTW) of employees on sick leave for common mental disorders may require a multidisciplinary approach. This article aims to assess time to RTW after a psychiatric consultation providing treatment advice to the occupational physician (OP) for employees on sick leave for common mental disorders in the occupational health (OH) setting, compared to care as usual (CAU).
Cluster randomized clinical trial evaluating patients of 12 OPs receiving consultation by a psychiatrist, compared to CAU delivered by 12 OPs in the control group. 60 patients suffering from common mental disorders and ≥ six weeks sicklisted were included. Follow up three and six months after inclusion. Primary outcome measure was time to RTW. Intention- to-treat multilevel analysis and a survival analysis were performed to evaluate time to RTW in both groups.
In CAU, referral was the main intervention. Both groups improved in terms of symptom severity and quality of life, but time to RTW was significantly shorter in the psychiatric consultation group. At three months follow up, 58% of the psychiatric consultation group had full RTW versus 44% of the control group, a significant finding (P = 0.0093). Survival analysis showed 68 days earlier RTW after intervention in the psychiatric consultation group (P = 0.078) compared to CAU.
Psychiatric consultation for employees on sick leave in the OH setting improves time to RTW in patients with common mental disorders as compared to CAU. In further research, focus should be on early intervention in patients with common mental disorders on short sick leave duration. Psychiatric consultation might be particularly promising for improvement of RTW in those patients.
Trial registration number
psychiatric consultation; mental disorders; RCT; sickness absence; major depressive disorder; anxiety disorder; somatoform disorder
The purpose of this study is to describe perceptions of environmental and occupational health issues among agricultural workers. Interviews were conducted with 389 agricultural workers in the Yakima Valley in central Washington State in the summers of 2004 and 2005. Undergraduate students from the community conducted interviews in Spanish or English. Environmental and occupational health issues were ranked by frequency of concern, and differences by demographic characteristics were evaluated using multivariate analyses. In both 2004 and 2005, agricultural workers expressed high levels of concern about working in hot weather, agricultural injuries, pesticides, and pediatric asthma. Perceptions of environmental and occupational health issues among agricultural workers differed by certain demographic characteristics, particularly age and ethnicity. Consideration should be given to these issues when designing research studies, creating educational materials, and developing interventions related to environmental and occupational hazards among agricultural workers.