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Ind Health. 2007 Jan;45(1):37-43.

Managing work-related psychological complaints by general practitioners, in coordination with occupational physicians: a pilot study.

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Toegepast Natuurwetenschappelijk Onderzoek: Applied Scientific Research, Work and Employment, Hoofddorp, The Netherlands.


Increasingly, workers have psychological work-related complaints, endangering their work ability and causing considerable economic losses. Many employees consult their general practitioner (GP). He, however, often pays insufficient attention to work-relatedness or to coordination with occupational physicians (OPs). Appropriate guidelines are missing. Consequently, we developed a GP guideline to handle these problems in coordination with OPs, and tested it in a pilot, using an explorative, evaluative study design. 23 GPs were trained to include employed patients and to test the guideline. Patients received questionnaires after 0, 4, 10 and 30 wk, GPs after 4 and 30 wk. The result was a new guideline, regarding problem orientation, diagnosis and advice, meant to avoid contradictory GP-OP advice and to activate patient responsibility. It included a GP-OP-patient communication form concerning information exchange and harmonization of insight/advice. Implementing GPs concluded that the guideline promotes recovery and work resumption and OP-GP contact benefits patients, prevents conflicting advice and promotes agreement on task division. They judged guideline efficiency and OP commitment less positively. Patients were positive, especially about GP-OP contact. Accordingly, an improved guideline, when tested for its effectiveness in a Randomized Controlled Trial, can help GPs to cope with a growing, complex problem, in collaboration with their occupational colleagues.

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