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1.  Occupational Screening for Tuberculosis and the Use of a Borderline Zone for Interpretation of the IGRA in German Healthcare Workers 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e115322.
Introduction
Healthcare workers (HCWs) in low incidence countries with contact to patients with tuberculosis (TB) are considered a high-risk group for latent TB infection (LTBI) and therefore are routinely screened for LTBI. The German Occupational TB Network data is analyzed in order to estimate the prevalence and incidence of LTBI and to evaluate putative risk factors for a positive IGRA and the performance of IGRA in serial testing.
Methods
3,823 HCWs were screened with the Quantiferon Gold in Tube (QFT) at least once; a second QFT was performed on 817 HCWs either in the course of contact tracing or serial examination. Risk factors for a positive QFT were assessed by a questionnaire.
Results
We observed a prevalence of LTBI of 8.3%. Putative risk factors for a positive QFT result were age >55 years (OR 6.89), foreign country of birth (OR 2.39), personal history of TB (OR 6.23) and workplace, e.g. internal medicine (OR 1.40), infection ward (OR 1.8) or geriatric care (OR 1.8). Of those repeatedly tested, 88.2% (721/817) tested consistently QFT-negative and 47 were consistently QFT-positive (5.8%). A conversion was observed in 2.8% (n = 21 of 742 with a negative first QFT) and a reversion occurred in 37.3% (n = 28 of 75 with a positive first QFT). Defining a conversion as an increase of the specific interferon concentration from <0.2 to >0.7 IU/ml, the conversion rate decreased to 1.2% (n = 8). Analogous to this, the reversion rate decreased to 18.8% (n = 9).
Discussion
In countries with a low incidence of TB and high hygiene standards, the LTBI infection risk for HCWs seems low. Introducing a borderline zone from 0.2 to ≤0.7 IU/ml may help to avoid unnecessary X-rays and preventive chemotherapy. No case of active TB was detected. Therefore, it might be reasonable to further restrict TB screening to HCWs who had unprotected contact with infectious patients or materials.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0115322
PMCID: PMC4277296  PMID: 25541947
2.  Occupational accident and disease claims, work-related stress and job satisfaction of physiotherapists 
Introduction
Physiotherapists are exposed to diverse occupational demands. Until now, little has been known about the interaction between occupational stress and the job satisfaction of physiotherapists. This paper aims to examine their work-related stress and job satisfaction. It will analyse accidents at work and occupational diseases of physiotherapists along with work-related physical and psychosocial stress and job satisfaction.
Method
We analysed routine data of the German Institute for Statutory Accident Insurance and Prevention in the Health and Welfare Services (BGW) on accidents at work and occurring en route to/from work as well as occupational diseases of physiotherapists. Work-related stress and job satisfaction were examined in a cross-sectional survey using a standard questionnaire to be completed by subjects themselves.
Results
Between 2007 and 2011, 1,229 cases of occupational disease were reported to the BGW. The majority of reports involved skin diseases (73%). Stumbles and falls were the most frequent causes of accidents at work (42.9%). Eighty-five physiotherapists all over Germany took part in the survey. They experience high quantitative demands at work. The main physical demands consist of a torso posture between 45° and 90° and high hand activity. Of the 85 subjects, 51% suffer from complaints of the musculoskeletal system in the neck and thoracic spine area and 24% have skin diseases. Most physiotherapists (88%) are satisfied with their work overall. This is aided by a high degree of influence on their work and breaks, by practical application of skills and expert knowledge, high regard for their profession, varied work and a good atmosphere at work. Reservations tend to be about statutory regulations and the social benefits provided by the German healthcare system.
Conclusion
Overall, despite high demands and stress relating to the adequacy of resources, the majority of physiotherapists surveyed seem to be satisfied with their job. The main focus of action to promote the health of physiotherapists should be on preventing skin disease, problems of the musculoskeletal system and accidents caused by stumbles and falls.
doi:10.1186/s12995-014-0036-3
PMCID: PMC4262239  PMID: 25505490
Working conditions; Physiotherapist; Job satisfaction; Accidents; Occupational disease
3.  Multiresistant pathogens in geriatric nursing – infection control in residential facilities for geriatric nursing in Germany 
Background: The increase of multidrug-resistant organisms (MDROs) causes problems in geriatric nursing homes. Older people are at increased a growing risk of infection due to multimorbidity and frequent stays in hospital. A high proportion of the elderly require residential care in geriatric nursing facilities, where hygiene requirements in nursing homes are similar to those in hospitals. For this reason we examined how well nursing homes are prepared for MDROs and how effectively protect their infection control residents and staff.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was performed on infection control in residential geriatric nursing facilities in Germany 2012. The questionnaire recorded important parameters of hygiene, resident and staff protection and actions in case of existing MDROs.
Results: The response was 54% in Hamburg and 27% in the rest of Germany. Nursing homes were generally well equipped for dealing with infection control: There were standards for MDROs and regular hygiene training for staff. The facilities provided adequate protective clothing, affected residents are usually isolated and hygienic laundry processing conducted. There are deficits in the communication of information on infected residents with hospitals and general practitioners. 54% of nursing homes performed risk assessments for staff infection precaution.
Conclusion: There is a growing interest in MDROs and infection control will be a challenge in for residential geriatric nursing facilities in the future. This issue has also drawn increasing attention. Improvements could be achieved by improving communication between different participants in the health service, together with specific measures for staff protection at work.
doi:10.3205/dgkh000242
PMCID: PMC4184044  PMID: 25285266
infection control; nosocomial infections; nursing homes; elderly people; infection prevention
4.  Predictive values and other quality criteria of the German version of the Nurse-Work Instability Scale (Nurse-WIS) – follow-up survey findings of a prospective study of a cohort of geriatric care workers 
Background
Until now there has been a lack of effective screening instruments for health care workers at risk. To counteract the forecast shortage for health care workers, the offer of early interventions to maintain their work ability will become a central concern. The Nurse-Work Instability Scale (Nurse-WIS) seems to be suitable as a screening instrument and therefore a prospective study of a cohort of nursing staff from nursing homes was undertaken to validate the Nurse-Work Instability Scale (Nurse-WIS).
Methods
The follow-up data was used to test the sensitivity, specificity and the predictive values of the Nurse-WIS. The participants answered a questionnaire in the baseline investigation (T1) and in a follow-up 12 month after baseline. The hypothesis was that geriatric care workers with an increased risk according to the Nurse-WIS in T1 would be more likely to have taken long-term sick leave or drawn a pension for reduced work capacity in T2.
Results
396 persons took part in T1 (21.3% response), 225 in T2 (42.3% loss-to-follow-up). In T1, 28.4% indicated an increased risk according to the Nurse-WIS. In T2, 10.2% had taken long-term sick leave or had drawn a pension for reduced work capacity. The sensitivity is 73.9% (95%-CI 55.7%–92.3%), the specificity is 76.7% (95%-CI 71.2%–82.8%). The ROC AUC indicated a moderate precision for the scale, at 0.74 (95%-CI 0.64–0.84).
The PPV of the Nurse-WIS is 26.6%, and the NPV is 96.3%. For those with an increased risk according to the Nurse-WIS, the probability in T2 of long-term sick leave or a pension for reduced work capacity is around eight times higher (OR 8.3, 95%-CI 2.90–23.07). Persons who had indicated a long-term sick leave or made an application for a pension for reduced work capacity in T1 had a 17 times higher risk (OR 17.4, 95%-CI 3.34–90.55).
Conclusion
The German version of the Nurse-WIS appears to be a valid instrument with satisfactory predictive capabilities for recording an impending long-term sick leave. Whether the Nurse-WIS can be used as a screening tool which helps to design risk adjusted prevention programs for the afflicted nurse should be studied.
doi:10.1186/s12995-014-0030-9
PMCID: PMC4265889  PMID: 25516765
Nurse-work instability scale; Nurses; Musculoskeletal disorders; Long-term sick leave
5.  Tuberculosis screening at the Sainte-Anne Hospital in Paris – results of first and second IGRA 
Introduction
Healthcare workers (HCWs) are exposed to Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) and therefore are screened for tuberculosis (TB). Results of TB screenings with the Interferon-γ Release Assay (IGRA) in a French psychiatric hospital without a TB ward are described.
Methods
At the Sainte-Anne Hospital, a referral centre for psychiatric patients throughout the municipal region of Paris, IGRA screening is performed during pre-employment and general health examination or after potential contact to MTB. The QuantiFERON Gold in tube (QFT) is used and data on TB history are assessed in a standardized manner.
Results
Between August 2008 und August 2013 in total 1.192 HCWs were tested and the QFT was positive in 265 (22.2%). Probability of a positive QFT increased with age. A second QFT was performed in 144 HCWs with a positive QFT and 53 (36.8%) HCWs had a reversion. With a positive QFT close to the cut-off (e.g. 0.35-0.7 IU/ml) the odds ratio for a reversion was 4.6 compared to an INF-γ concentration of ≥3.0 IU/ml. Probability of reversion was not influenced by preventive chemotherapy, which was completed by 28 (19.4%) HCWs with a positive QFT. No active TB was detected.
Conclusion
Prevalence of positive IGRA is high in French HCWs as is the number of reversions in IGRA. Reversion rate is particularly high around the cut-off of the IGRA. A borderline zone will therefore reduce the influence of test variability.
doi:10.1186/1745-6673-9-24
PMCID: PMC4094665  PMID: 25018775
Tuberculosis; Healthcare workers; Interferon-gamma release assay; Reversion
6.  MRSA carriage among healthcare workers in non-outbreak settings in Europe and the United States: a systematic review 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2014;14:363.
Abstarct
Background
A recent review estimated prevalence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in healthcare workers (HCWs) to be 4.6%. However, MRSA carriage in HCWs in non-outbreak settings is thought to be higher than in an outbreak situation, due to increased hygiene awareness in outbreaks, but valid data are missing. The goals of this paper are to summarise the prevalence of MRSA carriage amongst HCWs in non-outbreak situations and to identify occupational groups in healthcare services associated with a higher risk of MRSA colonisation.
Methods
A systematic search for literature was conducted in the MEDLINE and EMBASE databases. The methodological quality of the studies was assessed using seven criteria. Pooled prevalence rates were calculated. Pooled effect estimates were identified in a meta-analysis.
Results
31 studies were included in this review. The pooled MRSA colonisation rate was 1.8% (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.34%-2.50%). The rate increased to 4.4% (95% CI, 3.98%-4.88%) when one study from the Netherlands was excluded. The pooled MRSA rate was highest in nursing staff (6.9%). Nursing staff had an odds ratio of 1.72 (95% CI, 1.07-2.77) when compared with medical staff and an odds ratio of 2.58 (95%, 1.83-3.66) when compared with other healthcare staff. Seven studies were assessed as being of high quality. The pooled MRSA prevalence in high quality studies was 1.1% or 5.4% if the one large study from the Netherlands is not considered. The pooled prevalence in studies of moderate quality was 4.0%.
Conclusions
MRSA prevalence among HCWs in non-outbreak settings was no higher than carriage rates estimated for outbreaks. Our estimate is in the lower half of the range of the published MRSA rates in the endemic setting. Our findings demonstrate that nursing staff have an increased risk for MRSA colonisation. In order to confirm this finding, more studies are needed, including healthcare professionals with varying degrees of exposure to MRSA. In order to reduce misclassification bias, standardisation of HCWs screening is warranted.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-14-363
PMCID: PMC4094410  PMID: 24996225
MRSA; Colonisation; Healthcare worker
7.  Self-Reported Musculoskeletal Disorders of the Distal Upper Extremities and the Neck in German Veterinarians: A Cross-Sectional Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89362.
Background
Veterinary work is a physically demanding profession and entails the risk of injuries and diseases of the musculoskeletal system, particularly in the upper body. The prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders (MSD), the consequences and work-related accidents in German veterinarians were investigated. Work-related and individual factors associated with MSD of upper extremities and the neck were analyzed.
Methods
In 2011, a self-reporting Standardized Nordic Questionnaire was mailed to registered veterinarians in seven federal medical associations in Germany. A total of 3174 (38.4%) veterinarians responded. Logistic regression analysis was used to determine the association between risk factors and MSD-related impairment of daily activities.
Results
MSD in the neck (66.6%) and shoulder (60.5%) were more prevalent than in the hand (34.5%) or elbow (24.5%). Normal activities were affected in 28.7% (neck), 29.5% (shoulder), 19.4% (hand) and 14% (elbow) of the respondents. MSD in the upper body occurred significantly more often in large animal practitioners. Accidents that resulted in MSD were most frequently reported in the hand/wrist (14.3%) or in the shoulder (10.8%). The majority of all accidents in the distal upper extremities were caused by animals than by other factors (19% vs. 9.2%). For each area of the body, a specific set of individual and work-related factors contributed significantly to severe MSD: Older age, gender, previous injuries, BMI, practice type, veterinary procedures such as dentistry, rectal procedures and obstetric procedures as well as high demands and personal burnout.
Conclusion
From the perspective of occupational health and safety, it seems to be necessary to improve accident prevention and to optimize the ergonomics of specific tasks. Our data suggest the need for target group-specific preventive measures that also focus on the psychological factors at work.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0089362
PMCID: PMC3929685  PMID: 24586718
8.  Serial IGRA testing of trainees in the healthcare sector in a country with low incidence for tuberculosis – a prospective cohort study 
Background: Healthcare workers (HCW) are a risk group for tuberculosis (TB). That is why interferon-gamma release assay (IGRA) serial testing is performed on HCWs repeatedly exposed to infectious patients or materials. However, the variability of IGRA in serial testing is not yet well understood. We therefore analysed the prevalence of positive IGRA results as well as conversion and reversion rates in the serial testing of healthcare trainees in a low-incidence country.
Methods: In a prospective cohort study, all trainees (n=194) who began training as a nurse or healthcare worker at the Vivantes Healthcare Training Institute in Berlin on 1 October 2008 or 1 April 2009 were IGRA-tested at three different times during the three years of training. Socio-demographic data and possible risk factors (e.g., TB contacts, time spent abroad, area of work) were recorded by means of a standardised questionnaire. The QuantiFERON Gold In-Tube (QFT) was used as an IGRA.
Results: At the beginning of the training the cohort comprised 194 trainees. 70% were female. Their average age was 23. The prevalence of positive QFT was 2.1% (4/194). In the first follow-up test, 2 out of 154 (1.3%) tested IGRA-positive, 151 (98%) had constantly negative results. One IGRA was constantly positive (0.6%) and there was one conversion and one reversion (0.6% respectively). In the second follow-up (n=142) there was again one conversion (0.7%), one reversion and the one constantly positive test result in all three QFT. This trainee had active TB in 2002. All other test results were constantly negative (n=139; 98%). No case of active tuberculosis was diagnosed over the three-year observation period. Contact with TB patients was reported by 42 (29.6%) trainees during the follow-up. The two trainees with a conversion in QFT had no known contact with TB patients. Discordant results in the three consecutive QFT were observed in three trainees (2.1%). Using a borderline zone from 0.2–0.7 IU/mL reduced the number of trainees with discordant results from three to one – a reversion.
Conclusion: The prevalence rate of latent TB infection is low in healthcare trainees without known risk factors for TB infection in their history. The infection risk seems to be low in this population even though contacts with TB patients during the training were reported. Introducing a borderline zone for the interpretation of reversions and conversions in this cohort appears to be safe and reduces the number of discordant results and helps to avoid unnecessary chest X-rays and preventive treatment.
doi:10.3205/dgkh000217
PMCID: PMC3857277  PMID: 24327943
tuberculosis; serial testing; interferon-gamma release assay; healthcare workers; students; occupational disease; latent tuberculosis infection
9.  Frequency and consequences of violence and aggression towards employees in the German healthcare and welfare system: a cross-sectional study 
BMJ Open  2012;2(5):e001420.
Objectives
In this study, the frequency and consequences of aggressive assaults on employees in the German healthcare and welfare system were investigated.
Design
A retrospective cross-sectional study.
Setting
Employees in the German healthcare system and their experiences of violence and aggression were examined in this study.
Participants
The sample consisted of 1973 employees from 39 facilities (6 facilities for the disabled, 6 hospitals and 27 outpatient and inpatient geriatric care facilities) who have regular contact with patients or clients.
Main outcome measures
The frequency of physical and verbal violence towards employees and the consequences of aggressive assaults were analysed.
Results
56% of respondents had experienced physical violence and 78% verbal aggression. The highest frequency of physical violence was in inpatient geriatric care (63%) (p=0.000). Younger workers run a higher risk of being affected by physical violence than older colleagues (OR 1.8, 95% CI 1.3 to 2.4). There is also an increased risk of experiencing physical violence in inpatient geriatric care (OR 1.6, 95% CI 1.2 to 2.0). Around a third of workers feel seriously stressed by the violence experienced. The better the facility trained employees for dealing with aggressive and violent clients, the less risk employees ran of experiencing either verbal aggression (OR 0.5, 95% CI 0.4 to 0.7) or physical violence (OR 0.7, 95% CI 0.6 to 0.9). Training by the facility has a positive effect on experienced stress (OR 0.6, 95% CI 0.4 to 0.8).
Conclusions
Violence towards nursing and healthcare personnel occurs frequently. Every third respondent feels severely stressed by violence and aggression. Occupational support provisions to prevent and provide aftercare for cases of violence and aggression reduce the risk of incidents and of perceived stress. Research is needed on occupational support provisions that reduce the risk of staff experiencing verbal and physical violence and the stress that is associated with it.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-001420
PMCID: PMC3488706  PMID: 23087013
Epidemiology; Public Health
10.  The occupational risk of Helicobacter pylori infection among gastroenterologists and their assistants 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:154.
Background
Helicobacter pylori is a widely spread bacterium that mainly inhabits the gastric mucosa and can lead to serious illnesses such as peptic ulcer disease, gastric carcinoma and gastric MALT lymphoma. The oral-oral route seems to be the main transmission route. The fact that endoscopes are contaminated after being used to perform a gastroscopy leads one to question whether gastroenterologists and endoscopy nurses and assistants run a higher risk of infection.
Methods
A systematic search for literature was conducted in the MEDLINE and EMBASE databases and further publications were found in reference lists of relevant articles. Epidemiological studies on the occupational exposure of endoscopy personnel were collected and their quality was assessed. Pooled effect estimates were identified in a meta-analysis.
Results
Of the 24 studies included in the analysis, 15 were considered to be methodologically good. Of these 15 studies, eight single studies showed a statistically significant increased risk of infection for gastroenterologists, and five for their assistants. Meta-analysis across all methodologically good studies found a statistically significant risk of 1.6 (95%CI 1.3-2.0) for doctors. The pooled effect estimates also indicated a statistically significant risk of Helicobacter pylori infection (RR 1.4; 95%CI 1.1-1.8) for assistants too.
When studies are stratified by medical and non-medical control groups, statistically significant risks can only be recognised in the comparison with non-medical controls.
Conclusions
In summary, our results demonstrated an increased risk of Helicobacter pylori infection among gastroenterological personnel. However, the choice of control group is important for making a valid assessment of occupational exposure risks.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-154
PMCID: PMC3123572  PMID: 21627778
11.  MRSA prevalence in european healthcare settings: a review 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:138.
Background
During the past two decades, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has become increasingly common as a source of nosocomial infections. Most studies of MRSA surveillance were performed during outbreaks, so that results are not applicable to settings in which MRSA is endemic. This paper gives an overview of MRSA prevalence in hospitals and other healthcare institutions in non-outbreak situations in Western Europe.
Methods
A keyword search was conducted in the Medline database (2000 through June 2010). Titles and abstracts were screened to identify studies on MRSA prevalence in patients in non-outbreak situations in European healthcare facilities. Each study was assessed using seven quality criteria (outcome definition, time unit, target population, participants, observer bias, screening procedure, swabbing sites) and categorized as 'good', 'fair', or 'poor'.
Results
31 observational studies were included in the review. Four of the studies were of good quality. Surveillance screening of MRSA was performed in long-term care (11 studies) and acute care (20 studies). Prevalence rates varied over a wide range, from less than 1% to greater than 20%. Prevalence in the acute care and long-term care settings was comparable. The prevalence of MRSA was expressed in various ways - the percentage of MRSA among patients (range between 1% and 24%), the percentage of MRSA among S. aureus isolates (range between 5% and 54%), and as the prevalence density (range between 0.4 and 4 MRSA cases per 1,000 patient days). The screening policy differed with respect to time points (on admission or during hospital stay), selection criteria (all admissions or patients at high risk for MRSA) and anatomical sampling sites.
Conclusions
This review underlines the methodological differences between studies of MRSA surveillance. For comparisons between different healthcare settings, surveillance methods and outcome calculations should be standardized.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-138
PMCID: PMC3128047  PMID: 21599908
12.  Fertility disorders and pregnancy complications in hairdressers - a systematic review 
Background
Hairdressers often come into contact with various chemical substances which can be found in hair care products for washing, dyeing, bleaching, styling, spraying and perming. This exposure can impair health and may be present as skin and respiratory diseases. Effects on reproduction have long been discussed in the literature.
Method
A systematic review has been prepared in which publications from 1990 to 2010 were considered in order to specifically investigate the effects on fertility and pregnancy. The results of the studies were summarised separately in accordance with the type of study and the examined events.
Results
A total of 2 reviews and 26 original studies on fertility disorders and pregnancy complications in hairdressers were found in the relevant databases, as well as through hand searches of reference lists. Nineteen different outcomes concerning fertility and pregnancy are analysed in the 26 original studies. Most studies looked into malformation (n = 7), particularly orofacial cleft. Two of them found statistically significant increased risks compared to five that did not. Small for gestational age (SGA), low birth weight (LBW) and spontaneous abortions were frequently investigated but found different results. Taken together the studies are inconsistent, so that no clear statements on an association between the exposure as a hairdresser and the effect on reproduction are possible. The different authors describe increased risks of infertility, congenital malformations, SGA, LBW, cancer in childhood, as well as effects from single substances.
Conclusion
On the basis of the identified epidemiological studies, fertility disorders and pregnancy complications in hairdressers cannot be excluded. Although the evidence for these risks is low, further studies on reproductive risks in hairdressers should be performed as there is a high public health interest.
doi:10.1186/1745-6673-5-24
PMCID: PMC2933705  PMID: 20723211

Results 1-12 (12)