Open Access Open Badges Research article

An online expert network for high quality information on occupational safety and health: cross-sectional study of user satisfaction and impact

Martijn DF Rhebergen1*, Annet F Lenderink2, Frank JH van Dijk1 and Carel TJ Hulshof13

Author Affiliations

1 Coronel Institute of Occupational Health, Academic Medical Center Amsterdam/University of Amsterdam, PO Box: 22700, 1100 DE Amsterdam, The Netherlands

2 Netherlands Center for Occupational Diseases, Academic Medical Center Amsterdam/University of Amsterdam, PO Box: 22660, 1100 DD, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

3 Centre of Excellence, Netherlands Society of Occupational Medicine (NVAB), PO Box 2113, 3500 GC Utrecht, The Netherlands

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 2011, 11:72  doi:10.1186/1472-6947-11-72

Published: 23 November 2011



Many people have difficulties finding information on health questions, including occupational safety and health (OSH) issues. One solution to alleviate these difficulties could be to offer questioners free-of-charge, online access to a network of OSH experts who provide tailored, high-quality information. The aim of this study was to assess whether network quality, respectively information quality, as perceived by the questioners, is associated with questioners' overall satisfaction and to explore the impact of the information received on questioners' knowledge, work and work functioning.


We evaluated the experiences of OSH questioners with the online network over a two-year period. In this network, approximately 80 qualified experts are available to answer OSH questions. By means of a questionnaire, we assessed questioners' overall satisfaction with the network, whether the network was user-friendly, easily accessible and easy to handle and whether the information provided was complete, applicable and received in a timely manner. The impact of the information on questioners' knowledge, work or work functioning was explored with seven questions. In the study period, 460 unique OSH questioners asked 851 OSH questions. In total, 205 of the 460 questioners completed the questionnaire (response rate 45%).


Of the responders, 71% were satisfied with the ArboAntwoord network. Multiple logistic regression analysis showed that the applicability of the information had a positive influence on the questioners' overall satisfaction (OR = 16.0, 95% CI: 7.0-36.4). Also, user friendliness of the network (OR = 3.3, 95% CI: 1.3-8.6) and completeness of the information provided (OR = 3.0, 95% CI: 1.3-6.8) were positively related to the questioners' satisfaction. For 74% of the questioners, the information helped to increase their knowledge and understanding. Overall, 25% of the questioners indicated that the received information improved their work, work functioning or health.


A free-of-charge, online expert network in the field of OSH can be a useful strategy to provide OSH questioners with applicable, complete and timely information that may help improve safety and health at work. This study provides more insight in how to satisfy network questioners and about the potential impact of provided information on OSH.