Work-related disease in general practice: a systematic review

Harm-Jan A Weevers, Allard J van der Beek, Johannes R Anema, Gerrit van der Wal, Willem van Mechelen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

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OBJECTIVES: The objective was to answer the following questions: What is the prevalence of potentially work-related diseases in the general practice population? What is the incidence of consulting a GP for a potentially work-related disease? What is the relationship between diseases seen in general practice and work ability?

METHODS: Cochrane standards and QUOROM principals were used. For this systematic review the available literature was identified in a computerized search of the bibliographical databases Medline, Embase and Osh-rom. A total of 22 publications (24 studies) met the inclusion criteria.

RESULTS: In the general practice population high prevalence rates of potentially work-related diseases were found for low back pain, neck pain and shoulder pain. Incidence rates of consulting a GP for a potentially work-related disease were high also. Musculoskeletal disorders were the main reasons for work-related consultations in general practice. Work-related diseases can affect work ability.

CONCLUSIONS: Work-related diseases are common, given the high incidence and prevalence of potentially work-related diseases found in the general practice population and seen by the GP. This review underlines the important role of GPs in identifying and managing work-related diseases. GPs should consider the work factor and pay special attention to the effects of work on health, because patients often link their work with their illness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-204
Number of pages8
JournalFamily Practice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2005


  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Family Practice
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases/epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases/epidemiology
  • Prevalence

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