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Sustainability of an interdisciplinary secondary prevention program for hairdressers



Two hundred and fifteen hairdressers suffering from occupational skin diseases (OSD) have attended a 6-month combined dermatological and educational prevention program with an education and counseling scheme as well as an intervention in the respective hairdressers’ shops. The aim of this program, conducted from 1994 to 1997, was to enable the affected hairdressers to remain at work without suffering from major OSD.


To assess the sustainability of this interdisciplinary medical and educational training program, the intervention group (IG, N = 215) and a control group (CG, hairdressers with OSD who solely received dermatological treatment, N = 85) were followed up 9 month and 5 years after their individual project participation by a standardized questionnaire. A subcohort of the intervention group (IG1994, participants in 1994, N = 62) was followed up again 10 years after their participation.


The follow-up survey 9 months after the beginning of the program (response rate: IG: N = 163, 75.8%; CG: N = 80, 94.1%) showed that 71.8% (N = 117) of the intervention group could remain in work as opposed to 60.0% (N = 48) in the control group. In the intervention group 14.7% gave up work due to OSD versus 22.5% in the control group (no statistically significant effect).

In the 5-year follow-up (response rate: IG: N = 172, 80%; CG: N = 55, 64.7%) 58.7% (N = 101) of the IG remained at work versus 29.1% (N = 16) of the CG. In the IG 12.8% had stopped work because of OSD versus 27.3% in the CG (p < 0.001, Cramer’s V = 0.26). Ten years after intervention, the follow-up showed a stabilization of the effects shown by the 5-year follow-up results.

In addition to the criteria ‘remaining’ or ‘not remaining at work’ the results show that our interdisciplinary intervention program led to an increased and sustained knowledge on OSD and more adequate prevention at the work place in the IG. The results confirm that interdisciplinary training can be successful in effecting self-protection against workplace hazards by using positive approaches that include the learning of “safe” behavior and insuring transferability to real workplace settings (“empowerment”). Combined preventive measures as studied in this program have recently become the standard offered by different statutory accident liability insurances for patients in different wet work occupations with OSD in Germany.

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Wulfhorst, B., Bock, M., Gediga, G. et al. Sustainability of an interdisciplinary secondary prevention program for hairdressers. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 83, 165–171 (2010).

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  • Occupational skin diseases (OSD)
  • Prevention program
  • Health education
  • Educational training program
  • Long-term effectiveness
  • Hairdressers