Socioeconomic inequalities in health in the working population: the contribution of working conditions.
BACKGROUND: The aim was to study the impact of different categories of working conditions on the association between occupational class and self-reported health in the working population. METHODS: Data were collected through a postal survey conducted in 1991 among inhabitants of 18 municipalities in the southeastern Netherlands. Data concerned 4521 working men and 2411 working women and included current occupational class (seven classes), working conditions (physical working conditions, job control, job demands, social support at work), perceived general health (very good or good versus less than good) and demographic confounders. Data were analysed with logistic regression techniques. RESULTS: For both men and women we observed a higher odds ratio for a less than good perceived general health in the lower occupational classes (adjusted for confounders). The odds of a less than good perceived general health was larger among people reporting more hazardous physical working conditions, lower job control, lower social support at work and among those in the highest category of job demands. Results were similar for men and women. Men and women in the lower occupational classes reported more hazardous physical working conditions and lower job control as compared to those in higher occupational classes. High job demands were more often reported in the higher occupational classes, while social support at work was not clearly related to occupational class. When physical working conditions and job control were added simultaneously to a model with occupational class and confounders, the odds ratios for occupational classes were reduced substantially. For men, the per cent change in the odds ratios for the occupational classes ranged between 35% and 83%, and for women between 35% and 46%. CONCLUSIONS: A substantial part of the association between occupational class and a less than good perceived general health in the working population could be attributed to a differential distribution of hazardous physical working conditions and a low job control across occupational classes. This suggests that interventions aimed at improving these working conditions might result in a reduction of socioeconomic inequalities in health in the working population. (+info)
Socioeconomic inequalities and disability pension in middle-aged men.
BACKGROUND: The issue of inequalities in health has generated much discussion and socioeconomic status is considered an important variable in studies of health. It is frequently used in epidemiological studies, either as a possible risk factor or a confounder and the aim of this study was to analyse the relation between socioeconomic status and risk of disability pension. METHODS: Five complete birth year cohorts of middle-aged male residents in Malmo were invited to a health survey and 5782 with complete data constituted the cohort in this prospective study. Each subject was followed for approximately 11 years and nationwide Swedish data registers were used for surveillance. RESULTS: Among the 715 men (12%), granted disability pension during follow-up, three groups were distinguished. The cumulative incidence of disability pension among blue collar workers was 17% and among lower and higher level white collar workers, 11% and 6% respectively. With simultaneous adjustment for biological risk factors and job conditions, the relative risk for being granted a disability pension (using higher level white collar workers as reference) was 2.5 among blue collar workers and 1.6 among lower level white collar workers. CONCLUSIONS: Socioeconomic status, as defined by occupation, is a risk factor for being granted disability pension even after adjusting for work conditions and other risk factors for disease. (+info)
Health at work in the general practice.
BACKGROUND: Poor mental health and high stress levels have been reported in staff working in general practice. Little is known about how practices are tackling these and other issues of health at work in the absence of an established occupational healthcare service. AIM: To establish the extent of knowledge and good practice of health at work policies for staff working in general practice. METHOD: Practice managers in 450 randomly selected general practices in England were interviewed by telephone, and the general practitioner (GP) with lead responsibility for workplace health in the same practice was surveyed by postal questionnaire. We surveyed the existence and implementation of practice policies, causes and effects of stress on practice staff, and agreement between practice managers and GPs on these issues. RESULTS: Seventy-one per cent of GPs and 76% of practice managers responded, with at least one reply from 408 (91%) practices and responses from both the practice manager and GPs from 252 (56%) practices. Seventy-nine per cent of practices had a policy on monitoring risks and hazards. The proportion of practices with other workplace health policies ranged from 21% (policy to minimize stress) to 91% (policy on staff smoking). There was a tendency for practices to have policies but not to implement them. The three causes of stress for practice staff most commonly cites by both GP and practice manager responders were 'patient demands', 'too much work', and 'patient abuse/aggression'. Sixty-five per cent of GPs felt that stress had caused mistakes in their practices. Although there was general agreement between the two groups, there was a considerable lack of agreement between responders working in the same practices. CONCLUSIONS: The study revealed substantial neglect of workplace health issues with many practices falling foul of health and safety legislation. This report should help general practices identify issues to tackle to improve their workplace health, and the Health at Work in the NHS project to focus on areas where their targeted help will be most worthwhile. (+info)
Design and trial of a new questionnaire for occupational health surveys in companies.
In this article we present an example of our method for instrument development. This method is called the Development Cycle. It consists of four main stages: (1) defining the requirements for an instrument; (2) research, design and pilot testing; (3) implementation and (4) evaluation. An application of the Development Cycle was realized within a project for the development of a basic questionnaire about work and health, to be used at periodic health surveys. This questionnaire had to identify work and work-related health problems in employees with divergent occupations and working conditions. The design of the instrument and the results of its trial in 517 employees is presented. The evaluation of the test results and the modification of the questionnaire are discussed. From 1995, the questionnaire has been implemented in the Dutch OHS services quite successfully. (+info)
Alteration of circadian time structure of blood pressure caused by night shift schedule.
The effects of night shift schedules on circadian time structure of blood pressure were studied in seven healthy young subjects by continuous monitoring of blood pressure every 30 min for 72 h. In the control experiment, subjects were instructed to sleep at regular times with the light off at 00.00 h and the light on at 07.00 h. In the shift experiment, they were instructed to go to bed at 06.00 h and wake up at 11.00 h. The circadian rhythm of blood pressure rapidly phase delayed by 3.5 h in the second night shift day as a group phenomenon. Individual differences in changes in power spectral patterns of blood pressure were found in the night shift schedule. Ultradian rhythmicity of blood pressure was more pronounced in three subjects, whereas the circadian rhythmicity was maintained in four subjects. These findings held when the adaptation to shift work was taken into account. (+info)
The self-reported well-being of employees facing organizational change: effects of an intervention.
The objective of this study was to investigate the self-reported well-being of employees facing organizational change, and the effect of an intervention. It was a controlled intervention study. Subjects were allocated to study and control groups, and brief individual counselling was offered to the subjects in the study groups. Questionnaire measures were administered before and after counselling (a 3-month interval), and non-counselled subjects also completed questionnaires at the same times. The setting was 15 estate offices in an urban local authority Housing Department. Subjects comprised the total workforce of the Housing Management division: 193 employees, male and female, aged 22-62 years, facing compulsory competitive tendering between 1994-97. Main outcome measures were baseline and comparative measures of psychological morbidity, including the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ) and the Occupational Stress Indicator (OSI). Questionnaire response rates were 72% and 47% on first and second occasions respectively. The uptake of counselling was 37%. In comparison with (1) the UK norms for the OSI and (2) the norms for a similar occupational group, this group of workers were under more work-related pressure and their self-reported health was markedly poorer. They were not however at a disadvantage in terms of coping strategies. Those accepting the offer of counselling were subject to greater levels of work stress, had poorer self-reported health and markedly lower levels of job satisfaction than those who did not. Questionnaire scores were not significantly different before and after counselling, giving no evidence of treatment effects on symptomatology. However, almost all subjects rated counselling as having been extremely helpful. This study suggests that adverse effects on staff facing organizational change may be ameliorated by improved management practice. (+info)
Failing firefighters: a survey of causes of death and ill-health retirement in serving firefighters in Strathclyde, Scotland from 1985-94.
During the decade beginning 1 January 1985, 887 full-time firefighters, all male, left the service of Strathclyde Fire Brigade (SFB). There were 17 deaths--compared to 64.4 expected in the Scottish male population aged 15-54 years--giving a standardized mortality ratio (SMR) of 26, and 488 ill-health retirements (IHR). None of the deaths was attributable to service, the major causes being: myocardial infarction--five, (expected = 17.3; SMR = 29); cancers--three (colon, kidney and lung) (expected = 13.6; SMR = 22); road traffic accidents--two (expected = 4.17; SMR = 48) and suicide--two (expected = 4.9; SMR = 41). Amalgamating the deaths and IHRs showed that the six most common reasons for IHR were musculoskeletal (n = 202, 40%), ocular (n = 61, 12.1%), 'others' (n = 58, 11.5%), injuries (n = 50, 9.9%), heart disease (n = 48, 9.5%) and mental disorders (n = 45, 8.9%). Over 300 IHRs (over 60%) occurred after 20 or more years service. When the IHRs were subdivided into two quinquennia, there were 203 and 302 in each period. Mean length of service during each quinquennium was 19.4 vs. 21.3 years (p = 0.003) and median length was 21 years in both periods; interquartile range was 12-26 years in the first and 17-27 years in the second period (p = 0.002), but when further broken down into diagnostic categories, the differences were not statistically significant, with the exception of means of IHRs attributed to mental disorders (14.5 vs. 19 years, p = 0.03). (+info)
The feasibility of conducting occupational epidemiology in the UK.
A postal survey was carried out of 1,000 UK companies to collect information about employee biographical and work history records. The overall response rate was 46%. All companies collected surname, forenames, address, date of birth and National Insurance number--information needed for cross-sectional studies. Other biographical details such as maiden name and National Health Service number were collected less often, which could increase the cost and difficulty of tracing ex-employees. Seventy per cent reported destroying their records within 10 years of an employee leaving, rising to 82% for companies with fewer than 100 employees. The destruction of employee records creates problems for historical cohort studies and case-control studies, and may hamper ex-employees trying to claim benefit for occupational-related illness. If the scope of future occupational epidemiology is to be improved, guidelines for the collection and retention of the data required must be developed and industry encouraged to participate. (+info)