Work activity analysis of Finnish occupational health professionals

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BackgroundSome Finnish studies have dealt with how occupational health nurses divide their working hours but other occupational health professionals have not been evaluated.AimsThis study describes how occupational health professionals allocate their working hours between main tasks.MethodsQuestionnaires were sent to 250 occupational health professionals, of whom 176 (70%) returned the completed forms. The data were analysed by using frequencies, means and one-way analysis of variance test.ResultsEmployee-oriented tasks accounted for roughly 50% of working hours from all occupational health professionals. The remaining working hours were shared between workplace visits, co-operation with partners, other occupational health care responsibilities and tasks in other health care fields, especially in the health care centres. These working hours varied greatly between the different occupational health professional groups. All units employed full-time occupational health nurses, but the services of physicians, physiotherapists and psychologists were usually provided part-time or even restricted to a few hours each week because these services were difficult to obtain. Occupational health nurses working in the municipal health care centres spent more time on workplace visits than other nurses. Employee-oriented tasks were emphasized more in physicians’, physiotherapists’ and psychologists’ work, especially in private medical health care units and in the jointly owned health care units.ConclusionsThe amount of time occupational health professionals are able to spend on workplace activities appears to be determined by the type of their employer.

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