Work-related primary care in occupational health physician's practice.

Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland.
Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation (Impact Factor: 2.8). 07/2011; 22(1):88-96. DOI: 10.1007/s10926-011-9325-1
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Primary care is frequently integrated in Finnish occupational health services (OHS). This study examines the frequency of work-related health problems in occupational health (OH) physicians' consultations for primary care and associations between health problems and interventions carried out by OH physicians.
OH physicians assessed the health problems of 651 consecutive visits in a private OHS unit. The health problem was regarded as work-related if it was caused or aggravated by work, or involved impaired work ability. Interventions carried out by OH physicians were analysed by logistic regression analysis.
The main health problem was caused either partially or mainly by work or symptoms were worsened by work (27%), or symptoms impaired work ability (52%). Musculoskeletal and mental disorders were the main work-related reasons for visits. In two-thirds of the cases of mental health problems, work caused or worsened symptoms, and the majority of long sickness absences were issued due to these problems. OH physicians carried out interventions concerning work or workplace in 21% of visits. Mental disorders were associated most strongly (OR 7.23, 95% CI 3.93-13.32) with interventions. The strongest association (OR 16.09, 95% CI 9.29-27.87) with work-related visits was, when the health problem was both work-induced and impaired work ability.
Work-related health problems comprise a considerable part of Finnish OH physicians' work. OH physicians play an important role in early treatment, in the prevention of disability, and in interventions aimed at workplaces based on the knowledge they get through primary care in OHS.

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