In Thailand, occupational health services (OHS) are mainly provided through occupational medicine clinics (OMCs) under governmental general hospitals. Return to work (RTW) management for workers with illnesses is a major function of OHS. However, very few OMCs can provide that function. Therefore, it is so important to establish and develop RTW program into OHS through OMCs. The aims of the study were to describe how to develop RTW activities among pilot hospitals and to evaluate the program’s achievement.Methods
This was a research and development study. The 8 OMCs were selected from every part of the country. The package of the RTW program included guideline with flow-chart, questionnaires, RTW assessment and reporting forms and one-day training course. The RTW management guideline involves activities both in hospital setting and in workplace. The training course took place in each hospital with participants from relevant stakeholders and network. The evaluation was performed at the end of the project.Results
Among 8 hospitals, two hospitals had already provided some RTW activities. After introducing of the package, all hospitals can provide RTW activities, e.g., screening and assessment of workers with illnesses, factory visits, and giving recommendations for workers and managers. After one year of implementation, 315 workers were reported to access the service. Most of them (87.6%) were workers from enterprises. The illnesses included musculo-skeletal disorders (42.8%), non-communicable diseases (9.2%), and occupational injuries (3.1%). After RTW management, most patients could come back to work in current job normally.Conclusions and discussions
The study showed the model was feasible. All OMCs can provide RTW management. The activities are mainly in hospital setting. However, RTW management in the workplaces needs to be strengthened. Most OH professional and network see the benefit of the program and capacity building with advance knowledge is also needed.