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author:("buis, P")
1.  Ineffective disability management by doctors is an obstacle for return-to-work: a cohort study on low back pain patients sicklisted for 3–4 months 
Aims: To determine obstacles for return-to-work in disability management of low back pain patients sicklisted for 3–4 months.
Methods: A cohort of 467 low back pain patients sicklisted for 3–4 months was recruited. A questionnaire was sent to their occupational physicians (OPs) concerning the medical management, obstacles to return-to-work, and the communication with treating physicians.
Results: The OPs of 300 of 467 patients participated in this study. In many cases OPs regarded the clinical waiting period (43%), duration of treatment (41%), and view (25%) of the treating physicians as obstacles for return-to-work. Psychosocial obstacles for return-to-work such as mental blocks, a lack of job motivation, personal problems, and conflicts at work were all mentioned much less frequently by OPs. In only 19% of the patients was there communication between OP and treating physician. Communication almost always entailed an exchange of information, and less frequently an attempt to harmonise the management policy. Surprisingly communication was also limited, when OPs felt that the waiting period (32%), duration of treatment (30%), and view (28%) of treating physicians inhibited return-to-work. Communication was significantly associated with the following obstacles for return-to-work: passivity with regard to return-to-work and clinical waiting period; adjusted odds ratios were 3.35 and 2.23, respectively.
Conclusions: Medical management of treating physicians is often an obstacle for return to work regarding low back pain patients sicklisted for 3–4 months, in the opinion of OPs. Nevertheless communication between OPs and the treating physicians in disability management of these patients is limited. More attention to prevention of absenteeism and bilateral communication is needed in medical courses.
doi:10.1136/oem.59.11.729
PMCID: PMC1740234  PMID: 12409530
2.  Communication between Dutch rheumatologists and occupational physicians in the occupational rehabilitation of patients with rheumatic diseases 
Objective: To assess the quality and quantity of communication and cooperation between Dutch rheumatologists and occupational physicians.
Methods: A postal survey among 187 Dutch rheumatologists.
Results: 153/187 rheumatologists (82%) returned the questionnaire. They considered reducing pain and fatigue to be their major responsibility in the process of occupational rehabilitation, followed by improving work participation (68/153 (44%)) and quality of work (55/153 (36%)). Although 112/153 (73%) of the rheumatologists judged the communication and cooperation with occupational physicians as reasonable to good, 119/153 (78%) of them were willing to improve the collaboration. Perceived bottlenecks mentioned were a lack of clarity about the occupational physician's position and activities, and the absence of practice guidelines. The most important prerequisites for improvement were found to be guarantees about the occupational physician's professional independence and more clarity about the competence of the occupational physicians and how they used the information provided.
Conclusion: Dutch rheumatologists are willing to improve cooperation and communication with occupational physicians. The perceived lack of clarity about their mutual tasks appears to be a major obstacle. Thus the development of a joint education programme and a guideline for occupational rehabilitation in rheumatic diseases may be appropriate first steps towards improvement.
doi:10.1136/ard.61.1.62
PMCID: PMC1753888  PMID: 11779762
3.  Dutch occupational physicians and general practitioners wish to improve cooperation 
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.
 
PMCID: PMC1757665  PMID: 10658552

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