Environmental and Occupational Health Practice
Online ISSN : 2434-4931
Field Studies
Development and application of a problem-solving approach to prevent sick leave owing to mental disorders in a manufacturing company
You Hwi Song Eiji Yano
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2021 Volume 3 Issue 1 Article ID: 2021-0002-FS


Objectives: This study aimed to reduce the number of sick leaves due to mental disorders using a problem-solving approach as the primary preventive strategy. Methods: We developed the approach referring to evidence-based public health, community-based participatory research, and competencies of occupational health professionals. We then applied the approach step-by-step to occupational health practices in a manufacturing company. Results: For the problem statement (Step 1) and formulating a hypothesis of cause-and-effect relationships (Step 2), we conducted a case-series study and hypothesized several workplace factors as causes of sick leaves. For empirical analysis (Step 3), we performed a retrospective cohort study. We set a department as the intervention target because of the high prevalence of sick leaves. After finding contextual and translational evidence by searching the scientific literature and assessing scientific evidence (Step 4), we identified stakeholders and weak elements in the occupational health management system. We promoted partnership with the stakeholders by sharing our findings (Step 5). We then developed and prioritized intervention options (Step 6) within the partnership. The employer decided to strengthen those weak elements and address the causes of sick leaves by developing an action plan and implementing interventions (Step 7). The incidence of sick leaves has subsequently decreased in the department. Finally, we evaluated the effectiveness of the problem-solving approach on the system, program, and outcomes (Step 8). Conclusion: This study revealed that a problem-solving approach may be effective in preventing sick leaves due to mental disorders in the workplace by building infrastructure for occupational health practice.

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