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Healthy worker, healthy citizen: the place of occupational health within public health research in Switzerland



To assess the state of Swiss occupational health (OH) research over the period 2008–2017.


Two types of indicators were constructed, focused, respectively, on resources available for OH research and its output. Data for their assessment were gathered from specialized research institutions, professional associations, and the Swiss Federal Statistical Office.


Thirty-two of 317 Ph.D./M.D.–Ph.D. theses delivered were in the field of OH. The number of OH physicians progressed substantially, but the density of OH professionals per number of active workers showed important variations between OH disciplines and geographical regions. The number of yearly peer-reviewed publications increased substantially but represented 6% of publications in public health in 2017. Psychological and respiratory health conditions were the most studied topics, while papers on cancers accounted for only 10%.


This study suggests a limited place of OH research in the Swiss public health landscape and the need for a national research effort in OH. This requires an improved collaboration between regional and federal authorities and communication/coordination between public health authorities and OH executive institutions belonging to the economic sector.

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We would like to thank the following individuals and institutions for their assistance in providing, locating or completing data used in our research: Myriam Benichou, IGH Library, Geneva University; Dominique Blaser, Basel University Library; Thomas Brauchli and Barbara Imsand Cheseaux, Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (IUMSP), Lausanne University; Sandrine Corbaz-Kurth, Swiss Ergonomics Association (SwissErgo); Prof. Brigitta Danuser, Institute for work and health (IST); Dr. Eva Furrer, Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Prevention Institute (EBPI), Zurich University; Dr. Stefanie Hostettler, FMH Swiss Medical Association; Diego Morosoli, EBPI Library, Zurich University; Aline Sager, CHUV Library, Lausanne University and IST; Dr. Klaus Stadtmüller and Michèle Spahr, Swiss Society of Occupational Medicine; The Swiss Society for Occupational Hygiene; and Ann Walser, Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+).


This study was funded by the Institute for Work and Health, University of Lausanne and University of Geneva.

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Correspondence to I. Guseva Canu.

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Since the 1st January 2019, the Institute for Work and Health (IST) merged with the University Medical Policlinics, the University Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, and the Canton of Vaud Association for Health Promotion to form unisanté, the Center for Primary Care and Public Health, University of Lausanne, Switzerland, where IST became the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health (DSTE).

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Guseva Canu, I., François, M., Graczyk, H. et al. Healthy worker, healthy citizen: the place of occupational health within public health research in Switzerland. Int J Public Health 65, 111–120 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00038-019-01245-w

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  • Occupational epidemiology
  • Research monitoring
  • Indicator
  • Exposure sciences
  • Environmental epidemiology