Health care/social assistance Occupational illnesses

Reminding doctors about obligations improves reporting of occupational illnesses: study

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Bologna, Italy – Reminding physicians of their legal obligation to report occupational illnesses is more effective than education efforts, according to a new study from the University of Bologna.

Researchers examined 12 studies evaluating a variety of interventions geared toward increasing physician reporting. Educational materials, meetings and a campaign had little effect on reporting, but reminding doctors of their legal obligation to report produced positive results, according to the researchers.

Occupational illnesses have long gone underreported because doctors do not necessarily know what is expected of them, or feel reporting is too burdensome, the researchers said.

Some U.S. states require physician reporting as part of their workers’ compensation program. The researchers recommended high-quality research into the effectiveness of other interventions to increase reporting, including the use of financial incentives.

The study was published March 25 in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.