Journal of Occupational Health
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Volume 54 , Issue 1
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Originals
  • Wei Sun, Jialiang Fu, Ying Chang, Lie Wang
    Type: Original
    Volume 54 (2012) Issue 1 Pages 1-8
    Released: March 05, 2012
    [Advance publication] Released: December 10, 2011
    JOURNALS FREE ACCESS
    Objectives: Anxiety disorders are the most prevalent mental health problem. However, few studies are available pertaining to this problem among Chinese doctors, a special occupational population exposed to high stress, especially during the implementation of health system reform. The aim of this study was to assess anxiety disorder among Chinese doctors and clarify its risk factors. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in 7 teaching hospitals of China Medical University. Questionnaires pertaining to anxiety disorder indicated by the Zung Self-Rating Anxiety Scale (SAS) and demographic characteristics, health status, lifestyle factors, work conditions and work-related psychological status were distributed to all registered doctors during April-June 2009. There were 1,134 effective respondents (effective response rate 71.2%), and these respondents became our subjects (539 male doctors and 595 female doctors). Results: The average standard scores of SAS for the male and female doctors were 46.8 and 46.7. General linear model analysis indicated that SAS was associated with, in standardized estimate (β) sequence, cynicism, emotional exhaustion, professional efficacy, sleeping problem, chronic diseases and physical exercise in men and with professional efficacy, emotional exhaustion, cynicism, sleeping problem, chronic diseases, job satisfaction, alcohol consumption and meals in women. Work-related psychological status contributed the most to the model R-square. Conclusion: Chinese doctors were at considerably high risk of anxiety disorder and job burnout and sleeping problem had prominent roles. Interventions such as preventing exhaustion at work and improving sleep quality should be given attention during health care system reform with the aim of lessening anxiety disorder in doctors in China.
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  • Merav Kliner, Laura Stroud
    Type: Original
    Volume 54 (2012) Issue 1 Pages 9-15
    Released: March 05, 2012
    [Advance publication] Released: December 10, 2011
    JOURNALS FREE ACCESS
    Objectives: The UK is a major destination country for trafficking for sexual exploitation, and so increasing numbers of victims of trafficking are managed within health and social services. This study aims to assess the psychological and physical impact on health and social care staff working with an identified sex-trafficked population in a Northern City within England and identify methods to assist staff to manage this complex population. Methods: This research is a qualitative study of 12 members of health and social care staff through semi-structured interviews. The subjects were identified using purposive sampling, and data were analyzed using thematic analysis. Results: Staff found working with sex-trafficked populations more difficult than with other vulnerable groups. They frequently described burnout and other adverse effects on their psychological and physical health. In general, staff felt undersupported and undertrained by their organizations. This led to concerns about the quality and sustainability of the service. Conclusions: Working with victims of sex trafficking significantly impacts on the physical and psychological health of staff. Staff working with such vulnerable groups require training and high levels of support to ensure that they are not adversely affected by their work and to ensure that high quality services are maintained. Practices to promote occupational health must be instilled within workplace policy and the organizational culture to limit the impact on psychological and physical health in staff working with vulnerable populations.
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  • María del Mar Seguí, Elena Ronda, Peter Wimpenny
    Type: Original
    Volume 54 (2012) Issue 1 Pages 16-24
    Released: March 05, 2012
    [Advance publication] Released: December 10, 2011
    JOURNALS FREE ACCESS
    Objectives: In Europe, 25% of workers use video display terminals (VDTs). Occupational health surveillance has been considered a key element in the protection of these workers. Nevertheless, it is unclear if guidelines available for this purpose, based on EU standards and available evidence, meet currently accepted quality criteria. The aim of this study was to appraise three sets of European VDT guidelines (UK, France, Spain) in which regulatory and evidence-based approaches for visual health have been formulated and recommendations for practice made. Methods: Three independent appraisers used an adapted AGREE instrument with seven domains to appraise the guidelines. A modified nominal group technique approach was used in two consecutive phases: first, individual evaluation of the three guidelines simultaneously, and second, a face-to-face meeting of appraisers to discuss scoring. Analysis of ratings obtained in each domain and variability among appraisers was undertaken (correlation and kappa coefficients). Results: All guidelines had low domain scores. The domain evaluated most highly was Scope and purpose, while Applicability was scored minimally. The UK guidelines had the highest overall score, and the Spanish ones had the lowest. The analysis of reliability and differences between scores in each domain showed a high level of agreement. Conclusions: These results suggest current guidelines used in these countries need an update. The formulation of evidence-base European guidelines on VDT could help to reduce the significant variation of national guidelines, which may have an impact on practical application.
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  • Toshiharu Mitsuhashi, Etsuji Suzuki, Soshi Takao, Hiroyuki Doi
    Type: Original
    Volume 54 (2012) Issue 1 Pages 25-33
    Released: March 05, 2012
    [Advance publication] Released: December 10, 2011
    JOURNALS FREE ACCESS
    Objectives: There has been a growing concern that maternal employment could have adverse or beneficial effects on children’s health. Although recent studies demonstrated that maternal employment was associated with a higher risk of childhood overweight, the evidence remains sparse in Asian countries. We sought to examine the relationship between maternal working hours and early childhood overweight in a rural town in Okayama Prefecture. Methods: In February 2008, questionnaires were sent to parents of all preschool children aged ≥3 yr in the town to assess maternal working status (working hours and form of employment), children’s body mass index, and potential confounders. Childhood overweight was defined following the age and sex-specific criteria of the International Obesity Task Force. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for childhood overweight were estimated in a logistic regression. We used generalized estimating equations with an exchangeable correlation matrix, considering the correlation between siblings. Results: We analyzed 364 preschool children. Adjusting for each child’s characteristics (age, sex), mother’s characteristics (age, obesity, educational attainment, smoking status, and social participation), and family’s characteristics (number of siblings), children whose mothers work <8 h/day had a substantially lower risk for being overweight (OR: 0.28, 95% CI: 0.09, 0.93) compared with children of non-working mothers, whereas the relationship was less pronounced among children whose mothers work ≥8 h/day (OR: 0.71, 95% CI: 0.19, 2.68). We observed similar patterns in a stratified analysis by the form of maternal employment. Conclusion: Short maternal working hours are associated with a lower odds of early childhood overweight.
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  • Shanshan Wu, Lihua He, Jingyun Li, Jianxin Wang, Sheng Wang
    Type: Original
    Volume 54 (2012) Issue 1 Pages 34-43
    Released: March 05, 2012
    [Advance publication] Released: December 10, 2011
    JOURNALS FREE ACCESS
    Objectives: Little is known about work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) among computer users mainland China. The aim of this study was to estimate the prevalence of WMSDs in office workers in Beijing, and to determine risk factors for WMSDs in the neck (WMSDs-N). Methods: In a cross-sectional study, a self-administered questionnaire was delivered to 720 office workers who use a computer as a main working tool. Odds ratios (ORs) were calculated for risk factors. Results: The prevalence of WMSDs of the neck, shoulder, wrist/hand, upper back and low back amongst office workers were 55.5, 50.7, 31.5, 26.2 and 6.6%, respectively. Both individual risk factor and working condition factors were found to be independently related to WMSDs-N. Conclusions: The WMSDs prevalence rates among office workers in Beijing, China, were high. The most affected area was the neck. Preventive measures for office work should be focused on the neck (e.g., rest breaks).
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  • Hong Mei Zhang, Ji Sheng Nie, Xin Li, Qiao Niu
    Type: Original
    Volume 54 (2012) Issue 1 Pages 44-50
    Released: March 05, 2012
    [Advance publication] Released: December 16, 2011
    JOURNALS FREE ACCESS
    Objectives: The aim of the present study was to determine the peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) apoptosis in coke oven workers so that we can take effective measures to protect coke oven workers. Methods: The subjects, 129 coke oven workers and 37 warehouse workers (controls), were investigated using a questionnaire to collect information about their age, working years, smoking and drinking habits, vocational history and other general information. The coke oven workers were divided into the oven-bottom group (34), oven-side group (48) and oven-top group (47) according to their working sites and environmental monitoring data. The concentration of benzo[a]pyrene (B[a]P) and the subjects’ urinary 1-hydroxypyrene (1-OH-Py) levels were determined by HPLC. Additionally, the PBMCs were separated from blood samples, and the early and late apoptosis rates were determined by flow cytometry. Results: The airborne B[a]P concentrations were 19.5 ± 13.2, 185.9 ± 38.6 and 1,623.5 ± 435.8 ng/m3 at the bottom, side and top of the oven, respectively, and were higher than in the controls’ workplaces 10.2 ± 7.6 ng/m3. Urinary 1-OH-Py, indicating the B[a]P’s internal exposure level, was significantly higher in the exposed groups than in the controls (p<0.05). Compared with the controls, the coke oven workers’ PBMC apoptosis rates were significantly increased and increased in association with the B[a]P level. PBMC apoptosis increased in association with the 1-OH-Py level and coking operation years and decreased in association with years of alcohol consumption. Conclusions: PBMC apoptosis in the coke oven workers was associated with the 1-OH-Py level, coke operation years and years of alcohol consumption and may be induced by B[a]P.
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Field Studies
  • Suguru Okubo, Kazuhito Yokoyama, Mayo Suzuki, Iori Tani, Wakaha Ikeda, ...
    Type: Field Study
    Volume 54 (2012) Issue 1 Pages 51-55
    Released: March 05, 2012
    [Advance publication] Released: December 10, 2011
    JOURNALS FREE ACCESS
    Objectives: The aim of this study was to elucidate the factors affecting the difficulties in receiving a medical consultation among workers with mental health problems. Methods: The present study was performed using a cross-sectional survey. We requested occupational physicians and nurses who were members of the Japan Society for Occupational Health to distribute self-administered questionnaires to their clients. Results: Ninety-nine workers (68 males and 30 females), aged 40.6 ± 9.1 yr, returned completed questionnaires; 65% of the respondents had been diagnosed with depression. The most common difficulty perceived by them was that there were no intra-office counselors. Multiple regression analysis revealed that the number of months between the onset of mental health problems and the first medical consultation was significantly associated with age and having no sick leave allowance. Conclusions: The implementation and enhancement of sick leave allowance may promote early intervention in regard to workplace mental health problems. Mental health education and regular checkups for older workers is also critical for early detection and intervention of mental health problems.
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  • Liang-Jen Wang, Chih-Ken Chen, Yi-Chen Sheng, Pei-Wen Lu, Yi-Ting Chen ...
    Type: Field Study
    Volume 54 (2012) Issue 1 Pages 56-63
    Released: March 05, 2012
    [Advance publication] Released: December 10, 2011
    JOURNALS FREE ACCESS
    Objectives: The aims of this study were to examine sexual harassment (SH) among hospital staffs in Taiwan, in terms of three-month incidence rate, the frequency of each type and the perception of SH, perpetrated by coworkers, patients and patients’ families and to investigate the gender differences for these issues. Methods: The subjects were employees at two general hospitals in Taiwan. The self-administered “Hospital Sexual Harassment Questionnaire” was sent to eligible staff, and the voluntary respondents answered the questionnaire anonymously. There were 536 respondents available for analysis, with an overall response rate of 43.4%. Results: The three-month incidence rates of SH by coworkers, patients, and patients’ families in our study population were 2.4, 4.3, and 1.7%, respectively. Telling sexual jokes was the most common type of SH. The males had greater opportunities to be exposed to porn videos by their coworkers. The females were more frequently exposed to sex jokes and remarks made by patients and their family members and unwanted physical touching by patients in the workplace. There were significant differences with regard to the perception of sex jokes and sexually explicit verbal descriptions as SH or not between genders. Conclusions: The information in this study can be a helpful reference for administrators in hospitals when they are establishing education plans and policies. It might be possible to prevent sexual harassment and misunderstandings between genders and to further avoid the negative impact on the emotional well-being of workers in hospitals.
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  • Won-Jun Choi, Sung-Il Cho, Sang-Hwan Han
    Type: Field Study
    Volume 54 (2012) Issue 1 Pages 64-73
    Released: March 05, 2012
    [Advance publication] Released: December 16, 2011
    JOURNALS FREE ACCESS
    Objectives: A case-crossover study was conducted to identify transient risk factors for occupational acute hand injuries. Methods: In total, 98 subjects were recruited from a hospital specializing in occupational accidents and trauma. Patients who had injured fingers, hands or wrists during work were interviewed within 30 days after their accidents. Results: The relative risks for each factor were as follows: 22.9 for unusual or malfunctioning machines (95% confidence interval [CI] 14.4–36.4), 3.3 for wearing gloves (95% CI 1.9–5.7), 5.7 for unusual tasks (95% CI 3.8–8.8), 12.1 for altered work methods (95% CI 8.4–17.6), 4.1 for rushing (95% CI 2.6–6.3), 12.9 for being distracted (95% CI 7.9–20.9), 1.2 for feeling ill (95% CI 0.4–3.6) and 1.0 for working overtime (95% CI 0.6–1.6). Conclusion: The results suggest that some transient risk factors were associated with occupational acute hand injuries. These risk factors are probably preventable, and modifying unsafe or unusual conditions is important to reduce occupational traumatic hand injuries.
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  • Fabio Berton, Cinzia Di Novi
    Type: Field Study
    Volume 54 (2012) Issue 1 Pages 74-78
    Released: March 05, 2012
    [Advance publication] Released: December 16, 2011
    JOURNALS FREE ACCESS
    Objectives: Formaldehyde ― a chemical widely used to preserve organic tissues in hospitals ― is known to be carcinogenic in the long term and to cause breathing-related symptoms in the short term. We have taken advantage of an experiment to quantify this second effect among hospital workers in terms of probability of showing respiratory symptoms with respect to a benchmark in which tissues are preserved using a procedure with arguably no impact, i.e., under-vacuum sealing. Methods: This paper exploits an experimental situation with controls for potential confounding effects to estimate a logistic regression of the probability that formalin (a solution of formaldehyde and water) causes respiratory symptoms. Results: The probability for formalin users was found to be eight to ten times higher than for personnel testing under-vacuum sealing. Conclusions: The substitution of formaldehyde with under-vacuum sealing would markedly improve the health of personnel.
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