Process quality indicators for general clinical occupational health practice

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Abstract

Background

The development and use of occupational health (OH) clinical process quality indicators are an essential component of a quality improvement programme in OH practice.

Aims

To develop generic quality indicators (QI) in order to improve the quality of OH practice in rehabilitating sick-listed individuals back to work.

Methods

A systematic search of literature on relevant governmental and academic websites was undertaken. Studies were analysed for evidence of interventions that led to a reduction of incidence or duration of sickness absence, or return-to-work rates. The studies were categorized thematically and reviewed by a small expert group who produced four draft QI. The draft QI were piloted in six OH departments to determine whether the indicators were clear, whether the data were feasible to collect and whether any changes to the indicators were recommended.

Results

1605 reports or papers were retrieved and six met the criteria for inclusion as evidence for the development of QI. Four QI were developed based on temporary modification for work for those off sick for >4 weeks; timeliness of appointment and advice to manager; high level of patient satisfaction and the production of informative reports. The pilot indicated that the QI were feasible to use in practice and easy to implement in a busy OH clinical environment.

Conclusions

Four QI have been developed for use in general OH practice. The pilot study demonstrated that the indicators are both feasible to use and easy to implement by clinical OH departments.

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