Do GPs record the occupation of their patients?

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General practitioners (GPs) have a central role in providing advice about fitness for work, yet there are concerns about their understanding of the relationship between work and health.


To assess whether GPs in one Cornish practice record the occupation of patients of working age and to quantify how important GPs in Cornwall consider recording of occupation in working-age patients.


An audit of the notes of 300 working-age patients in one practice, a search of the computer records at a different practice and a questionnaire survey of 202 GPs in practices in Cornwall.


Occupation was recorded in 50 (17%) of the 300 patient notes audited. The questionnaire response rate was 31%. Few (8%) respondents reported training in occupational medicine. Most (65%) of GPs recorded their patients’ occupation some of the time. A third (32%) of GPs did not consider it important to record patients’ occupations.


GPs in two Cornish practices recorded the occupation of working-age patients infrequently, but over two-thirds of GPs in Cornwall believe it is important to do so. If these results reflect the practice of UK GPs, the new ‘e-fit note’ may be of limited value in monitoring and analysing sickness absence.

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