Obtaining person-related information from employees with chronic health problems: a focus group study

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Purpose: The objective of this focus group study is to assess how occupational physicians (OPs) and insurance physicians (IPs) can best obtain information concerning person-related factors from employees. The research question was: what is the most effective way for OPs and IPs to obtain information concerning person-related factors, in the opinion of employees with chronic health problems? Methods: Three focus group discussions were conducted comprising of a total of 23 employees with work limitations due to chronic health problems. Employees discussed how physicians could best obtain information related to ten person-related cognitions and perceptions that are associated with work participation. The discussions were recorded, transcribed verbatim and analyzed through qualitative content analysis. Results: Employees indicated that information addressing person-related factors could best be obtained through discussing them directly during consultations, as opposed to the use of questionnaires or diaries. Important prerequisites to having fruitful conversations include a mutual trust between employee and physician, a sense of genuine physician interest, and the understanding of the physician of employees and their health concerns. Employees described various factors that influence these conversations, including the knowledge and communication skills of physicians, employee anxiety, and the atmosphere and time frame of the consultation. Conclusions: Information concerning the person-related factors of employees can best be obtained by discussing them during consultations. However, there has to be mutual trust, interest and understanding before employees feel comfortable to talk about these factors with a physician. OPs and IPs should consider these, and other identified factors, when asking about person-related factors during consultations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1003-1012
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019

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