Date: 01 Feb 2008

Tertiary individual prevention of occupational skin diseases: a decade’s experience with recalcitrant occupational dermatitis

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Abstract

Objective

If employees are threatened to loose their job due to a severe occupational skin disease (OSD), intensive interdisciplinary measures of tertiary individual prevention (TIP) are required. TIP comprises 2–3-weeks in-patient treatment plus intensive health-pedagogic counseling, and consecutive 3-weeks out-patient treatment by the local dermatologists. Each patient (pt) will stay off work for a total of usually 6 weeks to allow full barrier-recovery.

Methods

All 1,486 TIP-pts from various high-risk-professions, treated in our institution in the period 1994–2003, were followed up 1 year after the TIP by a standardised questionnaire, which was returned by 1,164 (78%) pts.

Results

Seven hundred and sixty-four (66%) of the responding 1,164 TIP-pts had successfully remained in their (risk-)professions. It could be demonstrated that to remain in the workplace was dependent on the individual motivation to use skin protection (P < 0.001), the provision of skin protection by the employer (P < 0.001), (higher) age of pt (P < 0.001) and the duration of continued out-patient-treatment by the local dermatologist (P < 0.001). However, there were no significant differences concerning the likelihood of successful job-continuation in the various high-risk-professions, e.g. hairdressers, nurses, metal-workers, food handlers, construction-workers.

Conclusion

The obtained data from TIP reveal remarkable pertinent options for interdisciplinary pt-management in severe OSD in all risk-professions.