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Occupational health risks of pathologists - results from a nationwide online questionnaire in Switzerland


Fritzsche, Florian Rudolf; Ramach, Constanze; Soldini, Davide; Caduff, Rosmarie; Tinguely, Marianne; Cassoly, Estelle; Moch, Holger; Stewart, Antony (2012). Occupational health risks of pathologists - results from a nationwide online questionnaire in Switzerland. BMC Public Health, 12:1054.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Pathologists are highly trained medical professionals who play an essential part in the diagnosis and therapy planning of malignancies and inflammatory diseases. Their work is associated with potential health hazards including injuries involving infectious human tissue, chemicals which are assumed to be carcinogenic or long periods of microscope and computer work. This study aimed to provide the first comprehensive assessment of the health situation of pathologists in Switzerland. METHODS: Pathologists in Switzerland were contacted via the Swiss Society of Pathologists and asked to answer an ethically approved, online anonymous questionnaire comprising 48 questions on occupational health problems, workplace characteristics and health behaviour. RESULTS: 163 pathologists participated in the study. Forty percent of pathologists reported musculoskeletal problems in the previous month. The overall prevalence was 76%. Almost 90% of pathologists had visual refraction errors, mainly myopia. 83% of pathologists had experienced occupational injuries, mostly cutting injuries, in their professional career; more than one fifth of participants reported cutting injuries in the last year. However, long lasting injuries and infectious diseases were rare. Depression and burnout affected every eighth pathologist. The prevalence of smoking was substantially below that of the general Swiss population. CONCLUSIONS: The results of this study suggest that more care should be taken in technical and personal protective measures, ergonomic workplace optimisation and reduction of work overload and work inefficiencies. Despite the described health risks, Swiss pathologists were optimistic about their future and their working situation. The high rate of ametropia and psychological problems warrants further study.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Pathologists are highly trained medical professionals who play an essential part in the diagnosis and therapy planning of malignancies and inflammatory diseases. Their work is associated with potential health hazards including injuries involving infectious human tissue, chemicals which are assumed to be carcinogenic or long periods of microscope and computer work. This study aimed to provide the first comprehensive assessment of the health situation of pathologists in Switzerland. METHODS: Pathologists in Switzerland were contacted via the Swiss Society of Pathologists and asked to answer an ethically approved, online anonymous questionnaire comprising 48 questions on occupational health problems, workplace characteristics and health behaviour. RESULTS: 163 pathologists participated in the study. Forty percent of pathologists reported musculoskeletal problems in the previous month. The overall prevalence was 76%. Almost 90% of pathologists had visual refraction errors, mainly myopia. 83% of pathologists had experienced occupational injuries, mostly cutting injuries, in their professional career; more than one fifth of participants reported cutting injuries in the last year. However, long lasting injuries and infectious diseases were rare. Depression and burnout affected every eighth pathologist. The prevalence of smoking was substantially below that of the general Swiss population. CONCLUSIONS: The results of this study suggest that more care should be taken in technical and personal protective measures, ergonomic workplace optimisation and reduction of work overload and work inefficiencies. Despite the described health risks, Swiss pathologists were optimistic about their future and their working situation. The high rate of ametropia and psychological problems warrants further study.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Institute of Pathology and Molecular Pathology
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2012
Deposited On:15 Feb 2013 10:12
Last Modified:17 Feb 2018 00:59
Publisher:BioMed Central
ISSN:1471-2458
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2458-12-1054
PubMed ID:23216705

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