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Open Access Research article

Improving occupational health care for construction workers: a process evaluation

Julitta S Boschman1*, Henk F van der Molen12, Judith K Sluiter1 and Monique HW Frings-Dresen1

Author Affiliations

1 Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Department: Coronel Institute of Occupational Health, PO Box 22660, Amsterdam, 1100, DE, the Netherlands

2 Arbouw, Dutch Health & Safety Institute in the Construction Industry, Harderwijk, The Netherlands

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:218  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-218

Published: 11 March 2013

Abstract

Background

To evaluate the process of a job-specific workers’ health surveillance (WHS) in improving occupational health care for construction workers.

Methods

From January to July 2012 were 899 bricklayers and supervisors invited for the job-specific WHS at three locations of one occupational health service throughout the Netherlands. The intervention aimed at detecting signs of work-related health problems, reduced work capacity and/or reduced work functioning. Measurements were obtained using a recruitment record and questionnaires at baseline and follow-up. The process evaluation included the following: reach (attendance rate), intervention dose delivered (provision of written recommendations and follow-up appointments), intervention dose received (intention to follow-up on advice directly after WHS and remembrance of advice three months later), and fidelity (protocol adherence). The workers scored their increase in knowledge from 0–10 with regard to health status and work ability, their satisfaction with the intervention and the perceived (future) effect of such an intervention. Program implementation was defined as the mean score of reach, fidelity, and intervention dose delivered and received.

Results

Reach was 9% (77 workers participated), fidelity was 67%, the intervention dose delivered was 92 and 63%, and the intervention dose received was 68 and 49%. The total programme implementation was 58%. The increases in knowledge regarding the health status and work ability of the workers after the WHS were graded as 7.0 and 5.9, respectively. The satisfaction of the workers with the entire intervention was graded as 7.5. The perceived (future) effects on health status were graded as 6.3, and the effects on work ability were graded with a 5.2. The economic recession affected the workers as well as the occupational health service that enacted the implementation.

Conclusions

Programme implementation was acceptable. Low reach, limited protocol adherence and modest engagement of the workers with respect to the intervention were the most prominent aspects that influenced the intervention process. The increase in the workers’ knowledge about their health status and work ability was substantial, and the workers’ satisfaction with the intervention was good. The perceived effect of the advised preventive actions on health status was sufficient.

Trial registration

Netherlands Trial Register: http://NTR3012 webcite