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1.  Comparing the Use of an Online Expert Health Network against Common Information Sources to Answer Health Questions 
Many workers have questions about occupational safety and health (OSH). It is unknown whether workers are able to find correct, evidence-based answers to OSH questions when they use common information sources, such as websites, or whether they would benefit from using an easily accessible, free-of-charge online network of OSH experts providing advice.
To assess the rate of correct, evidence-based answers to OSH questions in a group of workers who used an online network of OSH experts (intervention group) compared with a group of workers who used common information sources (control group).
In a quasi-experimental study, workers in the intervention and control groups were randomly offered 2 questions from a pool of 16 standardized OSH questions. Both questions were sent by mail to all participants, who had 3 weeks to answer them. The intervention group was instructed to use only the online network ArboAntwoord, a network of about 80 OSH experts, to solve the questions. The control group was instructed that they could use all information sources available to them. To assess answer correctness as the main study outcome, 16 standardized correct model answers were constructed with the help of reviewers who performed literature searches. Subsequently, the answers provided by all participants in the intervention (n = 94 answers) and control groups (n = 124 answers) were blinded and compared with the correct model answers on the degree of correctness.
Of the 94 answers given by participants in the intervention group, 58 were correct (62%), compared with 24 of the 124 answers (19%) in the control group, who mainly used informational websites found via Google. The difference between the 2 groups was significant (rate difference = 43%, 95% confidence interval [CI] 30%–54%). Additional analysis showed that the rate of correct main conclusions of the answers was 85 of 94 answers (90%) in the intervention group and 75 of 124 answers (61%) in the control group (rate difference = 29%, 95% CI 19%–40%). Remarkably, we could not identify differences between workers who provided correct answers and workers who did not on how they experienced the credibility, completeness, and applicability of the information found (P > .05).
Workers are often unable to find correct answers to OSH questions when using common information sources, generally informational websites. Because workers frequently misjudge the quality of the information they find, other strategies are required to assist workers in finding correct answers. Expert advice provided through an online expert network can be effective for this purpose. As many people experience difficulties in finding correct answers to their health questions, expert networks may be an attractive new source of information for health fields in general.
PMCID: PMC3374530  PMID: 22356848
Information services; online expert network; medical informatics; information-seeking behavior; occupational health; evidence-based practice; question and answer
2.  An Evidence-Based Multidisciplinary Practice Guideline to Reduce the Workload due to Lifting for Preventing Work-Related Low Back Pain 
We developed an evidence-based practice guideline to support occupational safety and health (OSH) professionals in assessing the risk due to lifting and in selecting effective preventive measures for low back pain (LBP) in the Netherlands. The guideline was developed at the request of the Dutch government by a project team of experts and OSH professionals in lifting and work-related LBP. The recommendations for risk assessment were based on the quality of instruments to assess the risk on LBP due to lifting. Recommendations for interventions were based on a systematic review of the effects of worker- and work directed interventions to reduce back load due to lifting. The quality of the evidence was rated as strong (A), moderate (B), limited (C) or based on consensus (D). Finally, eight experts and twenty-four OSH professionals commented on and evaluated the content and the feasibility of the preliminary guideline. For risk assessment we recommend loads heavier than 25 kg always to be considered a risk for LBP while loads less than 3 kg do not pose a risk. For loads between 3–25 kg, risk assessment shall be performed using the Manual handling Assessment Charts (MAC)-Tool or National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) lifting equation. Effective work oriented interventions are patient lifting devices (Level A) and lifting devices for goods (Level C), optimizing working height (Level A) and reducing load mass (Level C). Ineffective work oriented preventive measures are regulations to ban lifting without proper alternatives (Level D). We do not recommend worker-oriented interventions but consider personal lift assist devices as promising (Level C). Ineffective worker-oriented preventive measures are training in lifting technique (Level A), use of back-belts (Level A) and pre-employment medical examinations (Level A). This multidisciplinary evidence-based practice guideline gives clear criteria whether an employee is at risk for LBP while lifting and provides an easy-reference for (in)effective risk reduction measures based on scientific evidence, experience, and consensus among OSH experts and practitioners.
PMCID: PMC4081511  PMID: 24999432
Back pain; Interventions; Occupational health care; Prevention; Surveillance; Practice guideline; Lifting
3.  An online expert network for high quality information on occupational safety and health: cross-sectional study of user satisfaction and impact 
Many people have difficulties finding information on health questions, including occupational safety and health (OSH) issues. One solution to alleviate these difficulties could be to offer questioners free-of-charge, online access to a network of OSH experts who provide tailored, high-quality information. The aim of this study was to assess whether network quality, respectively information quality, as perceived by the questioners, is associated with questioners' overall satisfaction and to explore the impact of the information received on questioners' knowledge, work and work functioning.
We evaluated the experiences of OSH questioners with the online network over a two-year period. In this network, approximately 80 qualified experts are available to answer OSH questions. By means of a questionnaire, we assessed questioners' overall satisfaction with the network, whether the network was user-friendly, easily accessible and easy to handle and whether the information provided was complete, applicable and received in a timely manner. The impact of the information on questioners' knowledge, work or work functioning was explored with seven questions. In the study period, 460 unique OSH questioners asked 851 OSH questions. In total, 205 of the 460 questioners completed the questionnaire (response rate 45%).
Of the responders, 71% were satisfied with the ArboAntwoord network. Multiple logistic regression analysis showed that the applicability of the information had a positive influence on the questioners' overall satisfaction (OR = 16.0, 95% CI: 7.0-36.4). Also, user friendliness of the network (OR = 3.3, 95% CI: 1.3-8.6) and completeness of the information provided (OR = 3.0, 95% CI: 1.3-6.8) were positively related to the questioners' satisfaction. For 74% of the questioners, the information helped to increase their knowledge and understanding. Overall, 25% of the questioners indicated that the received information improved their work, work functioning or health.
A free-of-charge, online expert network in the field of OSH can be a useful strategy to provide OSH questioners with applicable, complete and timely information that may help improve safety and health at work. This study provides more insight in how to satisfy network questioners and about the potential impact of provided information on OSH.
PMCID: PMC3295706  PMID: 22111587
4.  An online network tool for quality information to answer questions about occupational safety and health: usability and applicability 
Common information facilities do not always provide the quality information needed to answer questions on health or health-related issues, such as Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) matters. Barriers may be the accessibility, quantity and readability of information. Online Question & Answer (Q&A) network tools, which link questioners directly to experts can overcome some of these barriers. When designing and testing online tools, assessing the usability and applicability is essential. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to assess the usability and applicability of a new online Q&A network tool for answers on OSH questions.
We applied a cross-sectional usability test design. Eight occupational health experts and twelve potential questioners from the working population (workers) were purposively selected to include a variety of computer- and internet-experiences. During the test, participants were first observed while executing eight tasks that entailed important features of the tool. In addition, they were interviewed. Through task observations and interviews we assessed applicability, usability (effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction) and facilitators and barriers in use.
Most features were usable, though several could be improved. Most tasks were executed effectively. Some tasks, for example searching stored questions in categories, were not executed efficiently and participants were less satisfied with the corresponding features. Participants' recommendations led to improvements. The tool was found mostly applicable for additional information, to observe new OSH trends and to improve contact between OSH experts and workers. Hosting and support by a trustworthy professional organization, effective implementation campaigns, timely answering and anonymity were seen as important use requirements.
This network tool is a promising new strategy for offering company workers high quality information to answer OSH questions. Q&A network tools can be an addition to existing information facilities in the field of OSH, but also to other healthcare fields struggling with how to answer questions from people in practice with high quality information. In the near future, we will focus on the use of the tool and its effects on information and knowledge dissemination.
PMCID: PMC2987966  PMID: 20969777
5.  Design of the Balance@Work project: systematic development, evaluation and implementation of an occupational health guideline aimed at the prevention of weight gain among employees 
BMC Public Health  2009;9:461.
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.
Trial Registration
PMCID: PMC2799413  PMID: 20003405
6.  Risk factors for developing jumper's knee in sport and occupation: a review 
BMC Research Notes  2009;2:127.
The onset of jumper's knee is generally associated with sports and sporting activities. Employees in certain professions might be at risk as well for developing jumper's knee. Therefore, it is of interest to identify risk factors in sport and/or occupation.
A systematic search of the international scientific literature was performed until November 2008 in the scientific databases (a) Medline, (b) Embase, and (c) SportDiscus. All types of studies were included. The search strategy retrieved ten articles about risk factors in sport that met the inclusion criteria. Risk factors that could be identified are; playing volleyball (4 studies), playing basketball (3 studies), training and playing volleyball/basketball more than 12 hours per week (2 studies), in combination with weight-bearing activities of at least 5 hours per week (1 study) and playing or training on a hard surface (1 study). No studies were found regarding occupation that fulfilled the inclusion criteria.
Playing volleyball and basketball has a positive association with the onset or worsening of jumper's knee. Other risk factors are training and playing hours of at least 12 hours per week and/or in combination with weight training of at least 5 hours per week, and/or with playing or training on a hard surface. We did not find a specific occupational risk factor.
PMCID: PMC2715413  PMID: 19586529
7.  The development of an intervention programme to reduce whole-body vibration exposure at work induced by a change in behaviour: a study protocol 
BMC Public Health  2007;7:329.
Whole body vibration (WBV) exposure at work is common and studies found evidence that this exposure might cause low back pain (LBP). A recent review concluded there is a lack of evidence of effective strategies to reduce WBV exposure. Most research in this field is focussed on the technical implications, although changing behaviour towards WBV exposure might be promising as well. Therefore, we developed an intervention programme to reduce WBV exposure in a population of drivers with the emphasis on a change in behaviour of driver and employer. The hypothesis is that an effective reduction in WBV exposure, in time, will lead to a reduction in LBP as WBV exposure is a proxy for an increased risk of LBP.
The intervention programme was developed specifically for the drivers of vibrating vehicles and their employers. The intervention programme will be based on the most important determinants of WBV exposure as track conditions, driving speed, quality of the seat, etc. By increasing knowledge and skills towards changing these determinants, the attitude, social influence and self-efficacy (ASE) of both drivers and employers will be affected having an effect on the level of exposure. We used the well-known ASE model to develop an intervention programme aiming at a change or the intention to change behaviour towards WBV exposure. The developed programme consists of: individual health surveillance, an information brochure, an informative presentation and a report of the performed field measurements.
The study protocol described is advantageous as the intervention program actively tries to change behaviour towards WBV exposure. The near future will show if this intervention program is effective by showing a decrease in WBV exposure.
PMCID: PMC2211310  PMID: 18005400

Results 1-7 (7)