With the globalization of occupational health psychology, more and more researchers are interested in applying employee well-being like work engagement (i.e., a positive, fulfilling, work-related state of mind that is characterized by vigor, dedication, and absorption) to diverse populations. Accurate measurement contributes to our further understanding and to the generalizability of the concept of work engagement across different cultures. The present study investigated the measurement accuracy of the Japanese and the original Dutch versions of the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (9-item version, UWES-9) and the comparability of this scale between both countries. Item Response Theory (IRT) was applied to the data from Japan (N = 2,339) and the Netherlands (N = 13,406). Reliability of the scale was evaluated at various levels of the latent trait (i.e., work engagement) based the test information function (TIF) and the standard error of measurement (SEM). The Japanese version had difficulty in differentiating respondents with extremely low work engagement, whereas the original Dutch version had difficulty in differentiating respondents with high work engagement. The measurement accuracy of both versions was not similar. Suppression of positive affect among Japanese people and self-enhancement (the general sensitivity to positive self-relevant information) among Dutch people may have caused decreased measurement accuracy. Hence, we should be cautious when interpreting low engagement scores among Japanese as well as high engagement scores among western employees.
This study aimed to summarize the major health problems among Chinese workers, the strategies and measures for occupational hazards control, the network and organizations of occupational health administration, and the achievements and current challenges of occupational health in China.
The situation of occupational health was found to be still serious in China. Enterprises with occupational hazards were widely distributed, the exposed population and cases of occupational diseases were numerous, and occupational risks were being transferred from the city to the countryside and from developed areas to developing ones. New emerging problems coexisted with traditional occupational hazards. Besides, a lack of occupational health services for migrant workers could be a major problem for a long time.
It is necessary to improve the fields related to occupational health, such as the supervision and administration of small- and medium-scale enterprises, research into key techniques for the prevention and control of occupational hazards, systems for the diagnosis and reporting of occupational diseases, and the training of health professionals.
Occupational health; China; Occupational disease; Protection; BOHS
Background: Occupational physicians can contribute to good management in healthy enterprises. The requirement to take into account the needs of the customers when planning occupational health services is well established.
Aims: To establish the priorities of UK employers, employees, and their representatives regarding the competencies they require from occupational physicians; to explore the reasons for variations of the priorities in different groups; and to make recommendations for occupational medicine training curricula in consideration of these findings.
Methods: This study involved a Delphi survey of employers and employees from public and private organisations of varying business sizes, and health and safety specialists as well as trade union representatives throughout the UK. It was conducted in two rounds by a combination of computer assisted telephone interview (CATI) and postal survey techniques, using a questionnaire based on the list of competencies described by UK and European medical training bodies.
Results: There was broad consensus about the required competencies of occupational physicians among the respondent subgroups. All the competencies in which occupational physicians are trained were considered important by the customers. In the order of decreasing importance, the competencies were: Law and Ethics, Occupational Hazards, Disability and Fitness for Work, Communication, Environmental Exposures, Research Methods, Health Promotion, and Management.
Conclusion: The priorities of customers differed from previously published occupational physicians' priorities. Existing training programmes for occupational physicians should be regularly reviewed and where necessary, modified to ensure that the emphasis of training meets customer requirements.
We investigated relationship between job stress and self-rated health among Japanese nese full-time occupational physicians (OPs).
In 2000, we mailed self-administrated questionnaires to 716 OPs. Of these OPs, 349 (49%) returned sufficiently completed questionnaires for analyses. oblique-rotated principal factor analysis of the job stress questionnaire extracted three components; low understanding of occupational health services in companies (low understanding), conflicts between occupational physicians and their coworkers (conflicts), and discrepancies between occupational physicians’ routine work and occupational health services (discrepancies).
The model, in which low understanding contributed to self-rated health through job satisfaction and self-rated health was influenced by job satisfaction and discrepancies, provided a good fit to the data.
We found that a potential relationship between job stress and self-rated health among Japanese full-time OPs. The present results implied that among full-time OPs, low understanding contributed negatively to self-rated health through job satisfaction, and that self-rated health was influenced positively by job satisfaction and negatively by discrepancies.
job stress; job satisfaction; self-rated health; occupational physicians; structural equation model
OBJECTIVES--The main objective is to describe the potential health and work problems of the aging employees in the Dutch working population. In this way, we can identify groups at extra risk of specific health problems. METHODS--In The Netherlands, occupational health services gather questionnaire data about work and health as part of periodical occupational health surveys (POHSs). These data from the POHSs of complaints about health and working conditions, aggregated into occupational groups and age categories, are used to provide indications for groups at extra risk of specific health problems. These problems are assessed by overviews of the relation between age and complaints about health and working conditions. RESULTS--Almost all of the health questions show an increase in health complaints with increasing age. White collar workers, especially the high grade white collar workers, usually have lower complaint percentages on health questions than blue collar workers. Female employees have relatively high complaint percentages on the health questions. Differences between occupational groups in the complaints about work and working conditions reflect the differences in work demands and exposure. The relation between age and work complaints is generally inconsistent and weak. The complaint percentages on work questions of female employees tend to be equal to or lower than those of the male employees. CONCLUSIONS--The absence of a clear increase of work complaints with advancing age in the presence of a decrease in health and working capacity may be explained by a selective turnover in the working population, especially in demanding occupations. To enhance the work participation of older employees it may be necessary to reduce the work demands and to increase decision latitude.
Little work has been done to assess the quality of health care and the use of evidence-based methods by occupational physicians in Belgium. Therefore, the main objective is to describe one aspect of occupational health assessments, namely the common use of dipstick urinalysis, and to compare the current practice with international guidelines.
A self-administered questionnaire was mailed to 211 members of the Scientific Association of Occupational Medicine in the Dutch speaking part of Belgium.
A total of 120 occupational physicians responded, giving a response rate of 57%. Dipstick urinalysis was a routine investigation for the vast majority of physicians (69%). All test strips screened for protein and in 90% also for blood. Occupational health services offered clinical tests to satisfy customer wants as international guidelines do not recommend screening for haematuria and proteinuria in asymptomatic adults. A lack of knowledge concerning positive testing and referral criteria was demonstrated in almost half of the study participants.
Belgian occupational physicians still routinely perform dipstick testing although there is no evidence to support this screening in healthy workers. To practice evidence-based medicine, occupational physicians need more instruction and training. Development and implementation of more guidelines is not only of use for the individual practitioner, it may also enhance professionalization and efficiency of occupational health care.
Evidence-based practice; Occupational health; Guidelines; Health surveillance
Occupational class differences in body mass index (BMI) have been systematically reported in developed countries, but the studies have mainly focused on white populations consuming a Westernized diet. We compared occupational class differences in BMI and BMI change in Japan and Finland.
The baseline surveys were conducted during 1998–1999 among Japanese (n = 4080) and during 2000–2002 among Finnish (n = 8685) public-sector employees. Follow-up surveys were conducted among those still employed, in 2003 (n = 3213) and 2007 (n = 7086), respectively. Occupational class and various explanatory factors were surveyed in the baseline questionnaires. Linear regression models were used for data analysis.
BMI was higher at baseline and BMI gain was more rapid in Finland than in Japan. In Finland, baseline BMI was lowest among men and women in the highest occupational class and progressively increased to the lowest occupational class; no gradient was found in Japan (country interaction effect, P = 0.020 for men and P < 0.0001 for women). Adjustment for confounding factors reflecting work conditions and health behavior increased the occupational class gradient among Finnish men and women, whereas factors related to social life had no effect. No statistically significant difference in BMI gain was found between occupational classes.
The occupational class gradient in BMI was strong among Finnish employees but absent among Japanese employees. This suggests that occupational class inequalities in obesity are not inevitable, even in high-income societies.
occupational class; body mass index; weight gain; international comparisons
Occupational health professionals may play an important role in preventive health promotion activities for employees. However, due to a lack of knowledge and evidence- and practice based methods and strategies, interventions are hardly being implemented by occupational physicians to date. The aim of the Balance@Work project is to develop, evaluate, and implement an occupational health guideline aimed at the prevention of weight gain among employees.
Following the guideline development protocol of the Netherlands Society of Occupational Medicine and the Intervention Mapping protocol, the guideline was developed based on literature, interviews with relevant stakeholders, and consensus among an expert group. The guideline consists of an individual and an environmental component. The individual component includes recommendations for occupational physicians on how to promote physical activity and healthy dietary behavior based on principles of motivational interviewing. The environmental component contains an obesogenic environment assessment tool. The guideline is evaluated in a randomised controlled trial among 20 occupational physicians. Occupational physicians in the intervention group apply the guideline to eligible workers during 6 months. Occupational physicians in the control group provide care as usual. Measurements take place at baseline and 6, 12, and 18 months thereafter. Primary outcome measures include waist circumference, daily physical activity and dietary behavior. Secondary outcome measures include sedentary behavior, determinants of behavior change, body weight and body mass index, cardiovascular disease risk profile, and quality of life. Additionally, productivity, absenteeism, and cost-effectiveness are assessed.
Improving workers' daily physical activity and dietary behavior may prevent weight gain and subsequently improve workers' health, increase productivity, and reduce absenteeism. After an effect- and process evaluation the guideline will be adjusted and, after authorisation, published. Together with several implementation aids, the published guideline will be disseminated broadly by the Netherlands Society of Occupational Medicine.
In most countries throughout the world the construction industry continues to account for a disturbingly high proportion of fatal and nonfatal injuries. Research has shown that large enterprises seem to be most actively working for a safe working environment when compared to small and medium-sized enterprises. Also, statistics from Canada, Italy and South Korea suggest that the risk of injury among construction workers decreases with enterprise size, that is the smaller the enterprise the greater the risk of injury. This trend, however, is neither confirmed by the official statistics from Eurostat valid for EU-15 + Norway nor by a separate Danish study - although these findings might have missed a trend due to severe underreporting. In addition, none of the above mentioned studies controlled for the occupational distribution within the enterprises. A part of the declining injury rates observed in Canada, Italy and South Korea therefore might be explained by an increasing proportion of white-collar employees in large enterprises.
To investigate the relation between enterprise size and injury rates in the Danish construction industry.
All male construction workers in Denmark aged 20-59 years will be followed yearly through national registers from 1999 to 2006 for first hospital treated injury (ICD-10: S00-T98) and linked to data about employment status, occupation and enterprise size. Enterprise size-classes are based on the Danish business pattern where micro (less than 5 employees), small (5-9 employees) and medium-sized (10-19 employees) enterprises will be compared to large enterprises (at least 20 employees). The analyses will be controlled for age (five-year age groups), calendar year (as categorical variable) and occupation. A multi-level Poisson regression will be used where the enterprises will be treated as the subjects while observations within the enterprises will be treated as correlated repeated measurements.
This follow-up study uses register data that include all people in the target population. Sampling bias and response bias are thereby eliminated. A disadvantage of the study is that only injuries requiring hospital treatment are covered.
A comparative study was made in Japan and The Netherlands of
the presence of preceding Campylobacter
jejuni infections in Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS). It was
conducted in two laboratories using different serological criteria. The
Japanese results showed no significant difference in the frequency of
C jejuni infection between the Japanese
(17/88, 19%) and Dutch (21/132, 16%) patients with GBS. The Dutch
investigation showed a higher frequency in Dutch patients (45/132;
34%) than in Japanese patients(20/88; 23%), but the difference did
not reach significance. Although the frequencies of preceding
C jejuni infection have been reported to be
higher in Asian countries than in western countries, the findings of
this collaborative study show that the incidence of antecedent
C jejuni infection in GBS in Japan is not
higher than in The Netherlands and that serological assays vary
considerably between laboratories.
OBJECTIVES: To study the nature and extent of evaluation research in occupational health services (OHSs). METHODS: Literature review of evaluation research in OHSs. On the basis of a conceptual model of OHS evaluation, empirical studies are categorised into aspects of input, process, output, outcome, and OHS core activities. RESULTS: Many methods to evaluate OHSs or OHS activities exist, depending on the objective and object of evaluation. The amount of empirical studies on evaluation of OHSs or OHS activities that met the non-restrictive inclusion criteria, was remarkably limited. Most of the 52 studies were more descriptive than evaluative. The methodological quality of most studies was not high. A differentiated picture of the evidence of effectiveness of OHSs arises. Occupational health consultations and occupational rehabilitation are hardly studied despite much time spent on the consultation by occupational physicians in most countries. The lack of effectiveness and efficiency of the pre-employment examination should lead to its abandonment as a means of selection of personnel by OHSs. Periodic health monitoring or surveillance, and education on occupational health hazards can be carried out with reasonable process quality. Identification and evaluation of occupational health hazards by a workplace survey can be done with a high output quality, which, however, does not guarantee a favourable outcome. CONCLUSIONS: Although rigorous study designs are not always applicable or feasible in daily practice, much more effort should be directed at the scientific evaluation of OHSs and OHS instruments. To develop evidence-based occupational health care the quality of evaluation studies should be improved. In particular, process and outcome of consultation and rehabilitation activities of occupational physicians need to be studied more.
Physicians' mental health may be adversely affected by the number of days of work and time spent on-call, and improved by sleep and days-off. The aim of this study was to determine the associations of depressive symptoms with taking days of off duty, hours of sleep, and the number of days of on-call and overnight work among physicians working in Japanese hospitals.
A cross-sectional study as a national survey was conducted by mail. The study population was 10,000 randomly selected physicians working in hospitals who were also members of the Japan Medical Association (response rate 40.5%). Self-reported anonymous questionnaire was sent to assess the number of days off-duty, overnight work, and on-calls, and the average number of sleep hours on days not working overnight in the previous one month. Depressive state was determined by the Japanese version of the Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology. Logistic regression analysis was used to explore the associations between depressive symptoms and the studied variables.
Among the respondents, 8.3% of men and 10.5% of women were determined to be depressed. For both men and women, depressive state was associated with having no off-duty days and averaging less than 5 hours of sleep on days not doing overnight work. Depressive state was positively associated with being on-call more than 5 days per month for men, and more than 8 days per month for women, and was negatively associated with being off-duty more than 8 days per month for men.
Some physicians need some support to maintain their mental health. Physicians who do not take enough days-off, who reduced sleep hours, and who have certain number of days on-calls may develop depressive symptoms.
The Finnish risk assessment practice is based on the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act aiming to improve working conditions in order maintain the employees' work ability, and to prevent occupational accidents and diseases. In practice there are hundreds of risk assessment methods in use. A simple method is used in small and medium sized enterprises and more complex risk evaluation methods in larger work places. Does the risk management function in the work places in Finland? According to our experience something more is needed. That is, understanding of common and company related benefits of risk management. The wider conclusion is that commitment for risk assessment in Finland is high enough. However, in those enterprises where OSH management was at an acceptable level or above it, there were also more varied and more successfully accomplished actions to remove or reduce the risks than in enterprises, where OSH management was in lower level. In risk assessment it is important to process active technical prevention and exact communication, increase work place attraction and increase job satisfaction and motivation. Investments in OSH are also good business. Low absenteeism due to illness or accidents increases directly the production results by improved quality and quantity of the product. In general Finnish studies have consistently shown that the return of an invested euro is three to seven-old. In national level, according to our calculations the savings could be even 20% of our gross national product.
Risk assessment; Risk management; Occupational health service
The Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg have adopted laws decriminalizing euthanasia under strict conditions of prudent practice. These laws stipulate, among other things, that the attending physician should consult an independent colleague to judge whether the substantive criteria of due care have been met. In this context initiatives were taken in the Netherlands and Belgium to establish specialized services providing such consultants: Support and Consultation for Euthanasia in the Netherlands (SCEN) and Life End Information Forum (LEIF) in Belgium. The aim of this study is to describe and compare these initiatives.
We studied and compared relevant documents concerning the Dutch and Belgian consultation service (e.g. articles of bye-laws, inventories of activities, training books, consultation protocols).
In both countries, the consultation services are delivered by trained physicians who can be consulted in cases of a request for euthanasia and who offer support and information to attending physicians. The context in which the two organisations were founded, as well as the way they are organised and regulated, is different in each country. By providing information on all end-of-life care matters, the Belgian LEIF seems to have a broader consultation role than the Dutch SCEN. SCEN on the other hand has a longer history, is more regulated and organised on a larger scale and receives more government funding than LEIF. The number of training hours for physicians is equal. However, SCEN-training puts more emphasis on the consultation report, whereas LEIF-training primarily emphasizes the ethical framework of end-of-life decisions.
In case of a request for euthanasia, in the Netherlands as well as in Belgium similar consultation services by independent qualified physicians have been developed. In countries where legalising physician-assisted death is being contemplated, the development of such a consultation provision could also be considered in order to safeguard the practice of euthanasia (as it can provide safeguards to adequate performance of euthanasia and assisted suicide).
Introduction Within the occupational health setting, somatoform disorders are a frequent cause of sick leave. Few validated screening questionnaires for these disorders are available. The aim of this study is to validate the PHQ-15 in this setting. Methods In a cross-sectional study of 236 sicklisted employees, we studied the performance of the PHQ-15 in comparison with the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI) as golden reference standard. We approached employees who were sick listed for a period longer than 6 weeks and shorter than 2 years for participation. This study was conducted on one location of a large occupation health service in the Netherlands, serving companies with more than 500 employees. All employees who returned the PHQ-15 were invited for the MINI interview. Specificity and sensitivity were calculated for optimal cut point and a receiver operating characteristic (ROC) was constructed. Results A total of 107 participants consented to participate in the MINI interview. A non-response analysis showed no significant differences between groups. According to the MINI, the prevalence of somatoform disorders was 21.5%, and the most frequent found disorder was a pain disorder. The PHQ-15 had an optimal cut point of 9 (patients scoring 9 or higher (≥9) were most likely to suffer from a somatoform disorder), with specificity and sensitivity equal to 61.9 and 56.5%, respectively. ROCs showed an area under the curve (AUC) of 0.63. Conclusion The PHQ-15 shows moderate sensitivity but limited efficiency with a cut point of 9 and can be a useful questionnaire in the occupational health setting.
PHQ-15; Somatoform disorders; Validation study; Occupational health setting; Specificity; Sensitivity
There is a paradox in Russia and its Arctic regions which reports extremely low rates of occupational diseases (ODs), far below those of other socially and economically advanced circumpolar countries. Yet, there is widespread disregard for occupational health regulations and neglect of basic occupational health services across many industrial enterprises.
Study design and methods
This review article presents official statistics and summarises the results of a search of peer-reviewed scientific literature published in Russia on ODs and occupational health care in Russia and the Russian Arctic, within the period 1980–2010.
Worsening of the economic situation, layoff of workers, threat of unemployment and increased work load happened during the “wild market” industrial restructuring in 1990–2000, when the health and safety of workers were of little concern. Russian employers are not legally held accountable for neglecting safety rules and for underreporting of ODs. Almost 80% of all Russian industrial enterprises are considered dangerous or hazardous for health. Hygienic control of working conditions was minimised or excluded in the majority of enterprises, and the health status of workers remains largely unknown. There is direct evidence of general degradation of the occupational health care system in Russia. The real levels of ODs in Russia are estimated to be at least 10–100 times higher than reported by official statistics. The low official rates are the result of deliberate hiding of ODs, lack of coverage of working personnel by properly conducted medical examinations, incompetent management and the poor quality of staff, facilities and equipment.
Reform of the Russian occupational health care system is urgently needed, including the passing of strong occupational health legislation and their enforcement, the maintenance of credible health monitoring and effective health services for workers, improved training of occupational health personnel, protection of sanitary-hygienic laboratories in industrial enterprises, and support for research assessing occupational risk and the effectiveness of interventions.
occupational diseases; occupational health care; occupational safety; labour conditions; Russian Arctic
OBJECTIVES: To investigate cooperation between occupational physicians (OPs) and general practitioners (GPs). METHODS: Literature review; structured interviews; questionnaires sent to randomised samples of OPs (n = 232) and GPs (n = 243). RESULTS: Actual cooperation is poor. However, more than 80% of both groups responded that they want to improve their cooperation, aiming at better quality of care. Obstacles identified by OPs include insufficient knowledge among GPs about occupational health services (OHSs) (57%) and their patients' working conditions (52%). OPs also consider that GPs suspect them of serving employers more than employees (44%) and of verifying reasons of absence, with information from GPs (34%). Responses from GPs confirm these two suspicions (48%, response 58%), adding obstacles like commercialisation of OHS, lack of financial incentives, etc. Both groups are unanimous about prerequisites for improvement, especially guaranteeing the professional autonomy of OPs (OPs 86%, GPs 76%). CONCLUSION: As a first step to overcome obstacles to cooperation, OPs must clarify their position to GP colleagues. Initiatives have been taken after presenting this study.
Comprehensive information about national spending on prevention is crucial for health policy development and evaluation. This study provides a comprehensive overview of prevention spending in the Netherlands, including those activities beyond the national health accounts.
National spending on health-related primary and secondary preventive activities was examined by funding source with the use of national statistics, government reports, sector reports, and data from individual health associations and corporations, public services, occupational health services, and personal prevention. Costs were broken down by diseases, age groups and gender using population-attributable risks and other key variables.
Total expenditures on prevention were €12.5 billion or €769 per capita in the Netherlands in 2003, of which 20% was included in the national health accounts. 82% was spent on health protection, 16% on disease prevention, and 2% on health promotion activities. Most of the spending was aimed at the prevention of infectious diseases (34%) and acute physical injuries (29%). Per capita spending on prevention increased steeply by age.
Total expenditure on health-related prevention is much higher than normally reported due to the inclusion of health protection activities beyond the national health accounts. The allocative efficiency of prevention spending, particularly the high costs of health protection and the low costs of health promotion activities, should be addressed with information on their relative cost effectiveness.
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
Chronic diseases are a leading contributor to work disability and job loss in Europe. Recent EU policies aim to improve job retention among chronically ill employees. Disability and occupational health researchers argue that this requires a coordinated and pro-active approach at the workplace by occupational health professionals, line managers (LMs) and human resource managers (HRM). Little is known about the perspectives of LMs an HRM on what is needed to facilitate job retention among chronically ill employees. The aim of this qualitative study was to explore and compare the perspectives of Dutch LMs and HRM on this issue.
Concept mapping methodology was used to elicit and map statements (ideas) from 10 LMs and 17 HRM about what is needed to ensure continued employment for chronically ill employees. Study participants were recruited through a higher education and an occupational health services organization.
Participants generated 35 statements. Each group (LMs and HRM) sorted these statements into six thematic clusters. LMs and HRM identified four similar clusters: LMs and HRM must be knowledgeable about the impact of chronic disease on the employee; employees must accept responsibility for work retention; work adaptations must be implemented; and clear company policy. Thematic clusters identified only by LMs were: good manager/employee cooperation and knowledge transfer within the company. Unique clusters identified by HRM were: company culture and organizational support.
There were both similarities and differences between the views of LMs and HRM on what may facilitate job retention for chronically ill employees. LMs perceived manager/employee cooperation as the most important mechanism for enabling continued employment for these employees. HRM perceived organizational policy and culture as the most important mechanism. The findings provide information about topics that occupational health researchers and planners should address in developing job retention programs for chronically ill workers.
The municipalities are responsible for the emergency primary health care services in Norway. These services include casualty clinics, primary doctors on-call and local emergency medical communication centres (LEMC). The National centre for emergency primary health care has initiated an enterprise called "The Watchtowers", comprising emergency primary health care districts, to provide routine information (patients' way of contact, level of urgency and first action taken by the out-of-hours services) over several years based on a minimal dataset. This will enable monitoring, evaluation and comparison of the respective activities in the emergency primary health care services. The aim of this study was to assess incidence of emergency contacts (potential life-threatening situations, red responses) to the emergency primary health care service.
A representative sample of Norwegian emergency primary health care districts, "The Watchtowers" recorded all contacts and first action taken during the year of 2007. All the variables were continuously registered in a data program by the attending nurses and sent by email to the National Centre for Emergency Primary Health Care at a monthly basis.
During 2007 the Watchtowers registered 85 288 contacts, of which 1 946 (2.3%) were defined as emergency contacts (red responses), corresponding to a rate of 9 per 1 000 inhabitants per year. 65% of the instances were initiated by patient, next of kin or health personnel by calling local emergency medical communication centres or meeting directly at the casualty clinics. In 48% of the red responses, the first action taken was a call-out of doctor and ambulance. On a national basis we can estimate approximately 42 500 red responses per year in the EPH in Norway.
The emergency primary health care services constitute an important part of the emergency system in Norway. Patients call the LEMC or meet directly at casualty clinics with medical problems that initially are classified as a potentially life-threatening situation, a red response.
Objective To evaluate the cost effectiveness, cost utility, and cost-benefit of an integrated care programme compared with usual care for sick listed patients with chronic low back pain.
Design Economic evaluation alongside a randomised controlled trial with 12 months’ follow-up.
Setting Primary care (10 physiotherapy practices, one occupational health service, one occupational therapy practice) and secondary care (five hospitals) in the Netherlands, 2005-9.
Participants 134 adults aged 18-65 sick listed because of chronic low back pain: 66 were randomised to integrated care and 68 to usual care.
Interventions Integrated care consisted of a workplace intervention based on participatory ergonomics, with involvement of a supervisor, and a graded activity programme based on cognitive behavioural principles. Usual care was provided by general practitioners and occupational physicians according to Dutch guidelines.
Main outcome measures The primary outcome was duration until sustainable return to work. The secondary outcome was quality adjusted life years (QALYs), measured using EuroQol.
Results Total costs in the integrated care group (£13 165, SD £13 600) were significantly lower than in the usual care group (£18 475, SD £13 616). Cost effectiveness planes and acceptability curves showed that integrated care was cost effective compared with usual care for return to work and QALYs gained. The cost-benefit analyses showed that every £1 invested in integrated care would return an estimated £26. The net societal benefit of integrated care compared with usual care was £5744.
Conclusions Implementation of an integrated care programme for patients sick listed with chronic low back pain has a large potential to significantly reduce societal costs, increase effectiveness of care, improve quality of life, and improve function on a broad scale. Integrated care therefore has large gains for patients and society as well as for employers.
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
Japan has a universal healthcare system, and this paper describes the reality of the healthcare services provided, as well as current issues with the system.
Academic, government, and press reports on Japanese healthcare systems and healthcare guidelines were reviewed.
The universal healthcare system of Japan is considered internationally to be both low-cost and effective because the Japanese population enjoys good health status with a long life expectancy, while healthcare spending in Japan is below the average given by the Organization for Economic Corporation and Development (OECD). However, in many regions of Japan the existing healthcare resources are seriously inadequate, especially with regard to the number of physicians and other health professionals. Because healthcare is traditionally viewed as “sacred” work in Japan, healthcare professionals are expected to make large personal sacrifices. Also, public attitudes toward medical malpractice have changed in recent decades, and medical professionals are facing legal issues without experienced support of the government or legal professionals. Administrative response to the lack of resources and collaboration among communities are beginning, and more efficient control and management of the healthcare system is under consideration.
The Japanese healthcare system needs to adopt an efficient medical control organization to ease the strain on existing healthcare professionals and to increase the number of physicians and other healthcare resources. Rather than continuing to depend on healthcare professionals being able and willing to make personal sacrifices, the government, the public and medical societies must cooperate and support changes in the healthcare system.
Aims: To develop a questionnaire that measures specific aspects of patient satisfaction with occupational health physicians.
Methods: General patient satisfaction questionnaires, a literature survey, and interviews with patients were used. An initial questionnaire was distributed among sick listed patients (n = 432) of occupational physicians (n = 90) from different occupational health services. To reduce items and to develop scales exploratory factor analysis and reliability analysis was used. A linear regression model was used to predict satisfaction ratings from the scales of the questionnaire.
Results: Questions about independence of the occupational physician were difficult to ask unambiguously. The factor analysis revealed five relevant factors which were named "being taken seriously as a patient", "attitude towards occupational health services", "trust and confidentiality", "expectations", and "comfort and access". All scales could be reduced to a maximum of five items without reducing the scale reliability too much. In the regression analysis, 71% of the variance of satisfaction ratings was explained by the first four scales and most by the first scale. "Comfort and access" did not contribute significantly to the model.
Conclusions: A short questionnaire was developed to measure different aspects of patient satisfaction specific for occupational health. Whether the questionnaire can effectively lead to quality improvement in occupational health services should be investigated.