Objectives: In this study, we aimed to categorize the actions of occupational physicians in health committees leading to solutions of occupational health problems.
Methods: We conducted two focus group discussions among experienced occupational physicians. The discussions addressed the following question: what had they and others said and done that had led to the development of solutions to occupational health problems. We used a qualitative content analysis approach developed by Berelson, and created a draft of the categories of actions. Subsequently, an online questionnaire survey was then used to evaluate the external validity of the draft. The questionnaire asked physicians whether they had experience of each item in the draft. They were also asked whether they had experienced any other items not included in the draft. If so, they were asked to provide a description of their experience. These descriptions were discussed by three researchers. Any suggested new items considered to fall under any of the original items in the draft were excluded, and any new items proposed by two or more participants were added as additional items. Finally, we corrected words and phrases and reviewed the items to ensure that they clearly conveyed the required meaning, and described actions leading to solutions to occupational health problems.
Results: The content analysis revealed six basic actions, and 32 items were categorized in the draft. The six basic actions were “participate”, “gather information”, “make a place that allows communication with key people and health committee members”, “make arrangements”, “speak at a health committee”, and “pay attention”. In total, 67 physicians responded to the questionnaire survey. At least 40% of participants answered that they had experience of the draft items. All items in the draft had also been experienced by groups of occupational physicians other than those involved in the focus groups. Three additional items proposed by two or more participants were added. “Pay attention” was deleted following the final review.
Conclusions: We categorized the actions of occupational physicians in health committees into five basic actions, and 32 items. Being aware of types of actions used in groups may encourage occupational physicians to be more involved in workplace health committees and contribute to the promotion of occupational health activities in the workplace.