- Work-related complaints and diseases of physical therapists – protocol for the establishment of a "Physical Therapist Cohort" (PTC) in Germany (2013)
- Background: Only few studies deal with the workload of physical therapists and the health consequences, although this occupational group is quite important for the health care system in many industrialized countries (e.g. ca. 136 000 people are currently employed as physical therapists in Germany). Therefore, the current state of knowledge of work-related diseases and disorders of physical therapists is insufficient. The aim of the "Physical Therapist Cohort" (PTC) study is to analyze the association between work-related exposures and diseases among physical therapists in Germany. This article describes the protocol of the baseline assessment of the PTC study. Methods/Design: A cross-sectional study will be conducted as baseline assessment and will include a representative random sample of approximately 300 physical therapists employed in Germany (exposure group), and a population-based comparison group (n = 300). The comparison group will comprise a sample of working aged (18–65 years) inhabitants of a German city. Variables of interest will be assessed using a questionnaire manual including questions regarding musculoskeletal, dermal, and infectious diseases and disorders as well as psychosocial exposures, diseases and disorders. In addition to subjective measures, a clinical examination will be used to objectify the questionnaire-based results (n = 50). Discussion: The study, which includes extensive data collection, provides a unique opportunity to study the prospective association of work-related exposures and associated complaints of physical therapists. Baseline results will give first clues with regard to whether and how prevalent main exposures of physiotherapeutic work and typical work areas of physical therapists are associated with the development of work-related diseases. Thereby, this baseline assessment provides the basis for further investigations to examine causal relationships in accordance with a longitudinal design.
- Occupational risk of tuberculosis transmission in a low incidence area (2005)
- Background: To investigate the occupational risk of tuberculosis (TB) infection in a low-incidence setting, data from a prospective study of patients with culture-confirmed TB conducted in Hamburg, Germany, from 1997 to 2002 were evaluated. Methods: M. tuberculosis isolates were genotyped by IS6110 RFLP analysis. Results of contact tracing and additional patient interviews were used for further epidemiological analyses. Results: Out of 848 cases included in the cluster analysis, 286 (33.7%) were classified into 76 clusters comprising 2 to 39 patients. In total, two patients in the non-cluster and eight patients in the cluster group were health-care workers. Logistic regression analysis confirmed work in the health-care sector as the strongest predictor for clustering (OR 17.9). However, only two of the eight transmission links among the eight clusters involving health-care workers had been detected previously. Overall, conventional contact tracing performed before genotyping had identified only 26 (25.2%) of the 103 contact persons with the disease among the clustered cases whose transmission links were epidemiologically verified. Conclusion: Recent transmission was found to be strongly associated with health-care work in a setting with low incidence of TB. Conventional contact tracing alone was shown to be insufficient to discover recent transmission chains. The data presented also indicate the need for establishing improved TB control strategies in health-care settings.
- Development and evaluation of a computer-based medical work assessment programme (2008)
- Background: There are several ways to conduct a job task analysis in medical work environments including pencil-paper observations, interviews and questionnaires. However these methods implicate bias problems such as high inter-individual deviations and risks of misjudgement. Computer-based observation helps to reduce these problems. The aim of this paper is to give an overview of the development process of a computer-based job task analysis instrument for real-time observations to quantify the job tasks performed by physicians working in different medical settings. In addition reliability and validity data of this instrument will be demonstrated. Methods: This instrument was developed in consequential steps. First, lists comprising tasks performed by physicians in different care settings were classified. Afterwards content validity of task lists was proved. After establishing the final task categories, computer software was programmed and implemented in a mobile personal computer. At least inter-observer reliability was evaluated. Two trained observers recorded simultaneously tasks of the same physician. Results: Content validity of the task lists was confirmed by observations and experienced specialists of each medical area. Development process of the job task analysis instrument was completed successfully. Simultaneous records showed adequate interrater reliability. Conclusion: Initial results of this analysis supported the validity and reliability of this developed method for assessing physicians' working routines as well as organizational context factors. Based on results using this method, possible improvements for health professionals' work organisation can be identified.