Author Interviews, ENT, Environmental Risks, Occupational Health / 06.09.2018 Interview with: Beatrice Golomb, MD, PhD Director of the Golomb Research Group Professor of Medicine University of California, San DiegoResponse: What is the background for this study? How was the radiation emitted? Response: Possibilities include surveillance devices (or things to jam them), electronic weapons, or, less likely, “innocent” communications devices. What are the main findings? Response: That all key features of diplomats’ experiences comport with pulsed radiofrequency/ microwave (RF/MW) radiation.
  1. The nature of the “sounds” heard – chirping, clicking, ringing, grinding/buzzing – are known “sounds” produced via the “microwave auditory effect” aka Frey effect.  Different sounds are heard by different people, because the character of the sound heard depends on head dimensions (as well as pulse characteristics). Sounds were primarily heard at night: consistent with the microwave auditory effect, which requires low ambient noise. Some diplomats reported that sounds were spatially localized with “laserlike” specificity – said to defy known physics. This defies the physics of sound, but not radiation. The “sound” was reported to follow a diplomat as he walked, within the territory in which it was heard. Sound from a fixed source does not seem to follow people – but the microwave auditory affect does, often perceived as being located just behind (or in some cases just above, or inside) the head of the person, irrespective of the person’s orientation relative to the radiation source.
  2. The symptoms reported following these experiences also fit. Rates of reported symptoms in diplomats – headache, cognitive and sleep problems dominating, then dizziness, tinnitus, anxiety, nausea at lesser but still high rates – match closely with rates of the same symptoms reported in a 2012 Japanese study of people who report health effects from radiation, typically including pulsed RF/MW. Hearing loss is a relatively distinctive and prominent symptom in both diplomats, and RF/MW affected civilians. In both groups, some reportedly experience speech problems, balance problems, nosebleed, and strange sensations of vibration and pressure.
Reports of symptoms with RF/MW exposures date at least to the 1920s, affecting radio amateurs and shipboard radio operators as well as others working with radar or microwaves in occupational settings. By 1971/72, a Naval report with over 2300 citations (many from Russia and Eastern Europe), assessing effects of low intensity RF radiation, had whole sections devoted to each of a number of the symptoms diplomats report.
  1. Hundreds (if not thousands) of studies have illuminated mechanisms by which these effects may arise, centered on oxidative stress (the kind of injury that antioxidants help to defend against) – and many downstream effects of oxidative stress (membrane damage, blood brain barrier impairment with potential for brain swelling, inflammation, voltage gated calcium (and other) channel effects (which can also lead to oxidative stress), mitochondrial impairment, autoimmune activation, etc.)
Affected persons are a minority (in both settings), and in the nondiplomat setting, vulnerability has been tied to genetic variants less adept at defending against oxidative stress; and low concentrations of a critical antioxidant. In both groups, brain imaging studies resemble traumatic brain injury; and in both, at least some of those affected had prior head injury. Head injury may be a predisposing factor, as well as possible consequence. Reprising findings also shown for research on other lucrative products with potential to cause harm in some, there is a powerful tie between study results and financial conflict of interest (e.g. source of study funding or conflicts by authors).
  1. There is precedent for use of microwaves in the diplomat setting. It is known that the US embassy in Moscow was microwaved for several decades beginning in the early 1950s (with some embassy staff citing – disputed - health problems). A 1976 NY Times story (“Moscow rays linked to U.S. bugging”) referenced speculation these were for surveillance; the Soviets claimed their purpose was to thwart U.S. listening devices on the roof of the embassy.
Author Interviews, Depression, Gender Differences, Occupational Health / 02.08.2018 Interview with: “Professional waitress” by Shih-Chi Chiang is licensed under CC BY 2.0Sarah Andrea, MPH School of Public Health OHSU-PSU What is the background for this study? Response: We spend one-third of our adult lives at work, and our work-related experiences and exposures affect our health. 14 million people work in the leisure and hospitality industry, a subset of the service industry that includes food service and personal care workers. This industry is simultaneously one of the fastest growing and lowest paid. In addition, work in this industry is frequently characterized by lack of control over hours and shifts worked, as well as insufficient access to health care and other benefits. Studies have previously found the highest burden of depression and sleep problems for workers in this industry compared to others. Individuals working in the service industry who earn the bulk for their income from tips from customers face additional vulnerabilities. In many states, tipped workers are paid as little as $2.13 an hour and rely on customers to make up the difference in tips, which are inequitable and unpredictable. Prior to this study, the potential health implications of tipped work were minimally assessed. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Gender Differences, Occupational Health, Sexual Health / 30.07.2018 Interview with: Brittany M. Charlton, ScD, Assistant Professor Harvard Medical School Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Boston Children's Hospital Boston, MA What is the background for this study? Response: Research has shown that nearly half of all sexual minorities (e.g., lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals) experience employment discrimination in their lifetime, which may lead to many other disparities, including health insurance coverage, healthcare access, and ultimately health-related quality of life (e.g., pain, anxiety). (more…)
Abuse and Neglect, Author Interviews, Dermatology, Environmental Risks, Melanoma, Occupational Health / 18.07.2018 Interview with: “Brad at Santa Monica Pier on Ferris Wheel” by Brad Cerenzia is licensed under CC BY 2.0Sonia Duffy, PhD, RN, FAAN Professor, College of Nursing The Ohio State University What is the background for this study? Response: Prior to conducting a tobacco cessation study with Operating Engineers, I conducted a survey of 498 Operating engineer and found that many of them were at risk for sun burning, which can lead to skin cancer.  So as a follow up study, I conducted a study to prevent sun burning, which randomized 357 Operating Engineers to were randomized to four interventions: education only; education and text message reminders; education and mailed sunscreen; and education, text message reminders, and mailed sunscreen. (more…)
Author Interviews, Circadian Rhythm, Microbiome, Occupational Health, PNAS / 15.07.2018 Interview with: Dr. Hans Van Dongen, PhD Director of the Sleep and Performance Research Center. ELSON S. FLOYD COLLEGE OF MEDICIN Washington State University Spokane, WA What is the background for this study? Response: Night shift workers are at increased risk of metabolic disorders, including obesity and type 2 diabetes, as well as cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, and cancer. Although it is believed that the biological clock – the master circadian clock in the brain – plays an important role in these adverse chronic health consequences of night shift work, the underlying mechanisms are not well understood. (more…)
Author Interviews, Gender Differences, Occupational Health, Sexual Health / 11.07.2018 Interview with: Leah Halper, PhD Associate Director Office of Student Life Center for the Study of Student Life Columbus, OH 43210 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: We started to run these studies in 2014 given mutual research interests that we shared. We knew that there was much research on sexual harassment that focused on the victim, the victim’s experience and the reporting process for sexual harassment. This work is extremely valuable. We noticed, however, that there was less research on the perpetrator and if there were personality variables related to the likelihood of sexual harassment. In our studies, we demonstrate that a personality variable (Fear of Negative Evaluation, or anxiety that others will see one as incompetent) is related to sexual harassment among men in powerful positions. Our results held up after taking into account other personality variables, such as narcissism and self-esteem. Also, we found that men who felt insecure in their power (i.e., those that were anxious that others would see them as incompetent) were more likely to engage in both quid pro quo harassment – asking for sexual favors in return for something else – and gender harassment – creating a hostile environment for women. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Diabetes, Occupational Health / 03.07.2018 Interview with: Mahée Gilbert-Ouimet, PhD Postdoctoral fellow/Chercheure postdoctorale Institute for Work & Health Hôpital du St-Sacrement,  Québec What is the background for this study?  Response: Diabetes is one of the primary causes of death worldwide, in addition to being a major risk factor for several other chronic diseases including cardiovascular diseases. Considering the rapid and substantial increase of diabetes prevalence, identifying modifiable risk factors is of major importance. In this regard, long work hours have recently been linked with diabetes, but more high-quality prospective studies are needed. Our study evaluated the relationship between long work hours and the incidence of diabetes among 7065 workers over a 12-year period in Ontario, Canada. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Occupational Health / 08.06.2018 Interview with: Eleonor Fransson, PhD Associate Professor in Epidemiology Department of Natural Sciences and Biomedicine School of Health and Welfare JÖNKÖPING UNIVERSITY What is the background for this study? Response: Atrial fibrillation is a very common heart rhythm disorder affecting a large number of people in the population, but there is limited knowledge about risk factors for the disease. This is especially true when it comes to the role of occupational factors. What are the main findings? Response: We found that work stress measured as job strain, that is, a combination of having high psychological job demands and low control over the work situation, was associated with almost 50% increased risk of atrial fibrillation. When we combined the results from our study with two previously published studies on the same topic, we found that work stress was associated with 37% increased risk. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brain Injury, Occupational Health / 04.04.2018 Interview with: Jeffrey A. (Jeff) Russell, PhD, AT, FIADMS Science and Health in Artistic Performance Division of Athletic Training, School of Applied Health Sciences and Wellness Ohio University Athens, OH 45701 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?     Response: Everyone knows that enormous attention is given to concussions in sports today. Those involved in performing arts experience many head impacts, too; yet, they receive neither the attention nor the specialized care for concussions that athletes do. At Ohio University’s Clinic for Science and Health in Artistic Performance (SHAPe Clinic) that I direct, we were seeing a number of theater students suffer concussions. So, Brooke Daniell and I decided explore this trend more closely. This is the first known published research to evaluate the prevalence of head impacts in theater personnel. In the sample we studied, which comprised predominantly those involved in various aspects of theater production, the prevalence of receiving at least one head impact in a theater career was 67%. Of those who sustained at least one head impact from theater, 77% reported three or more head impacts, and 39% reported more than five impacts. More troubling, of those who said they had received a head impact that was accompanied by concussion-like symptoms, 70% indicated that they continued their work, and half of those did not report the incident to anyone. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Occupational Health, PTSD / 02.03.2018 Interview with: Dr. Lori Davis, MD Research and Development Service, Tuscaloosa Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center, Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa Tuscaloosa, Alabama What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) interfere with a person’s ability to function at work, making it harder to stay employed and establish oneself in a career.  Veterans with PTSD are uniquely challenged given their motivation to serve others, be leaders and not be generally receptive to reaching out for help. Conventional wisdom about PTSD and employment has traditionally been to first commit to treatment, learn coping skills, manage one’s symptoms and then reintegrate into mainstream employment. However, this view is being transformed by our research that suggests a more assertive recovery-oriented approach to the treatment of PTSD that involves returning to meaningful competitive employment as soon as possible. This study compared Evidence-based Supported Employment (also known as Individual Placement and Support or IPS) integrated within PTSD treatment teams to the treatment as usual Transitional Work model offered within the VA. This multisite trial demonstrated significantly greater effectiveness of the IPS-supported employment over stepwise, transitional work vocational rehabilitation for Veterans living with chronic PTSD. (more…)
Author Interviews, Diabetes, Occupational Health / 13.02.2018 Interview with: “Night Shift - Hard@Work (5of8)” by cell105 is licensed under CC BY 2.0Dr. Céline Vetter Assistant Professor Department of Integrative Physiology University of Colorado at Boulder Boulder, CO What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: Shift work, particularly night shifts, can change our social rhythms, as well as the internal biological rhythms including our sleep, and these effects could explain why shift work is linked to conditions such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. However, we don’t know which type of shift pattern is most strongly linked to type 2 diabetes. In addition, we know that some lifestyle factors can modify the link between a genetic predisposition to a disease and the disease itself, but we don’t know if this applies to shift work and type 2 diabetes. (more…)
Author Interviews, Education, JAMA, Occupational Health, UCSF / 13.02.2018 Interview with: Christina Mangurian, MD, MAS Associate Professor of Psychiatry Vice Chair for Diversity, Department of Psychiatry UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences Director, UCSF Public Psychiatry Fellowship at ZSFG Core Faculty, UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We examined paid family and childbearing leave policies at top-10 medical schools across the US. Despite recommendation from national medical societies for 12 weeks paid childbearing leave because of the benefits to both infant and mother, the average leave at these top schools of medicine was only around 8 weeks. In addition, most policies are very difficult to understand, and are at the discretion of departmental leadership – both of which put women at a disadvantage at getting leave they deserve. Additionally, family leave was only available to the parent that identifies as the "primary caregiver" at five universities, disallowing cooperative parenting. (more…)
Author Interviews, Baylor College of Medicine Houston, Kidney Disease, Occupational Health / 01.02.2018 Interview with: Dr. Kevin F. Erickson MD, MS Section of Nephrology and Selzman Institute for Kidney Health Baylor College of Medicine Houston, TX What is the background for this study? Response: An amendment to the Social Security Act passed in 1972 made it so nearly every person who develops end-stage renal disease – or ESRD – in the U.S. becomes eligible for Medicare, regardless of their age. At the time the law was passed, the bill’s supporters argued that access to life-sustaining dialysis therapy would enable patients to continue being productive members of society through work and activities at home. While the law has succeeded in providing access to dialysis therapy for many patients who would have otherwise died from kidney failure, it has been less successful at helping patients to continue working. The rate of employment among patients with ESRD who are receiving dialysis in the U.S. is low and has continued to decrease over time, despite both financial benefits from employment and evidence suggesting that patients who are employed experience improved quality of life and sense of wellbeing. We used a national ESRD registry to examine trends in employment between 1996 and 2013 among patients starting dialysis in the U.S. and in the six months before ESRD. Our goal was to determine whether difficulties that patients face when trying to work begin even before they develop ESRD. (more…)
Author Interviews, CDC, Exercise - Fitness, NIH, Occupational Health / 18.01.2018 Interview with: Taylor M. Shockey, MPH Title 42 Fellow Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations and Field Studies NIOSH What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: Research has linked repeated exposure to occupational ergonomic hazards, such as frequent exertion and frequent standing, to injuries and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) among workers. To determine the industry and occupation groups that have the highest prevalence rates of frequent exertion at work and frequent standing at work, NIOSH researchers analyzed 2015 National Health Interview Survey data. The results showed large differences among the groups with the agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting industry group having the highest prevalence of frequent exertion and standing at work (70.9%) and the construction and extraction occupation group having the highest prevalence of frequent exertion and standing at work (76.9%). These differences indicate a need for targeted interventions to reduce workplace exposure. (more…)
Author Interviews, Dermatology, Environmental Risks, Infections, Occupational Health / 16.12.2017 Interview with: Lindsey Milich Rutgers School of Public Health studiesLindsey Milich Rutgers School of Public Health studies What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Much of the spotlight has been focused on hair and nail technicians, with the focus now shifting towards the health and safety of hair and nail salon clients. We wanted to assess perceived safety and health risks and prevalence of respiratory and dermal symptoms among hair and nail salon clients in New Jersey. Main findings include dermal/fungal symptoms being more prevalent among clients who visited salons three or more times within the past year, compared with those with fewer reported visits. Respiratory symptom prevalence was higher among clients with fewer salon visits, indicating a “healthy client effect”; clients with these symptoms may be less likely to return. (more…)
Author Interviews, Occupational Health, Weight Research / 09.10.2017 Interview with: Sun Miaomiao Prof. Shelly Tse JC School of Public Health and Primary Care The Chinese University of Hong Kong Sha Tin, Hong Kong What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Approximately 20% of the overall workforce is involving in a shift work schedule, which is equivalent to nearly 0.7 billion workers. It has been several studies and systematic reviews reported that shift work could contribute a risk to abdominal obesity, that was identified to be associated with increased mortality. However, the previous related studies derived from different industries and companies that held with various occupational settings of night shift work, and the results have been inconsistent or lack of statistical power. We believed that a better understanding of the knowledge gaps on the associations between specific obesity types and different shift work settings has important implications for occupational health practice. Our meta-analysis provided a clearer picture for the association between night shift work and overweight/ obesity with a potential gradient association, especially for the abdominal obesity. (more…)
Asthma, Author Interviews, CDC, Occupational Health, Pulmonary Disease / 28.09.2017 Interview with: Katelynn Dodd MPH Respiratory Health Division National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morgantown WV 26505 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Adults with asthma are at increased risk for pneumococcal infection. Adults with asthma who get pneumococcal pneumonia are at risk for additional complications including asthma exacerbation and invasive pneumococcal disease. Our results indicated that adults with work-related asthma were more likely to have received a pneumococcal vaccine than adults with non-work-related asthma—54 percent compared to 35 percent respectively; however, pneumococcal vaccination coverage among all adults with asthma, work-related or not, who have ever been employed in this study falls short of achieving the coverage public health experts recommend. Among adults with work-related asthma, pneumococcal vaccine coverage was lowest among Hispanics (36 percent), those without health insurance (39 percent), and adults aged 18 to 44 years (42 percent). (more…)
Author Interviews, Occupational Health, Social Issues / 10.08.2017 Interview with: Professor Tarani Chandola Cathie Marsh Institute and Social Statistics University of Manchester Co-director of the National Centre for Research Methods International Centre for Lifecourse Studies in Society & Health What is the background for this study? Response: The study examined the common perception that “any job is better than no job” to see whether this was true in terms of chronic stress levels. It followed up a group of unemployed adults representative of adults living in the UK, and compared their health and stress levels in terms of those who remained unemployed and those who became re-employed in poor and good quality work. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brain Injury, Cleveland Clinic, Cognitive Issues, MRI, Occupational Health / 29.07.2017 Interview with: Virendra Mishra, Ph.D. Department of Imaging Research Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Repetitive head trauma has been shown to be a risk factor for various neurodegenerative disorders, mood swings, depression and chronic traumatic encephalopathy. There has been a significant amount of research into identifying an imaging biomarker of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) due to repetitive head trauma. Unfortunately, most of the biomarkers have not been able to find a successful translation to clinics. Additionally, the quest for the mTBI imaging biomarker especially using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) techniques has been done by looking at either the gray matter (T1-weighted) or the white matter (Diffusion Tensor Imaging) independently; and both have shown changes that are associated with repetitive head trauma. Hence in this study, we wanted to investigate if combining gray matter and white matter information enables us to better predict the fighters who are more vulnerable to cognitive decline due to repetitive head trauma. Our method found seven imaging biomarkers that when combined together in a multivariate sense were able to predict with greater than 73% accuracy those fighters who are vulnerable to cognitive decline both at baseline and follow-up. The imaging biomarkers were indeed a combination of gray and white matter measures of regions reported previously in the literature. A key point in our study was we found the regions predicting cognitive decline without enforcing any assumptions on the regions previously reported. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Melatonin, Occupational Health / 28.06.2017 Interview with: Parveen Bhatti, PhD Associate Member Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Evidence in humans for an association between shift work and cancer has been mixed. This may be due to difficulties in accurately assessing long-term exposures to shift work in studies of cancer risk. We took a different approach that circumvented these difficulties. Rather than look at cancer risk directly, we measured, among actively employed shift workers, a marker of DNA damage that has been linked to cancer. When repaired by cellular machinery, this particular marker is excreted in urine where it can be measured. We found that, compared to sleeping at night during their night off, shift workers had lower urinary levels of the DNA damage marker during their night work. This effect appears to be driven by reductions in circulating melatonin levels among shift workers during night work relative to night sleep. Given that melatonin has been shown to enhance repair of DNA damage, our results suggest that, during night work, shift workers have reduced ability to repair DNA damage resulting in lower levels being excreted in their urine. Because of this, shift workers likely have higher levels of DNA damage remaining in their cells, which can lead to mutations and cause cancer. (more…)
Author Interviews, CDC, Occupational Health / 28.06.2017 Interview with: Taylor M. Shockey MPH CDC/National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health CDC What is the background for this study? Response: Our study examined health-related quality of life (HRQOL) among 22 major occupation groups using the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) data. The BRFSS is an annual telephone survey that collects data from U.S. residents on their health-related risk behaviors, chronic health conditions, and use of preventive services. HRQOL is an individual’s self-perception of their physical and mental health over time and it provides a valuable measure of well-being. HRQOL is used by a variety of different fields, outside of public health, including psychology, social work, economics, and urban planning. HRQOL is a measure capable of linking these different fields and is used to determine disease burden, to monitor progress in achieving the Healthy People goals, to guide policy and legislation, to develop interventions, and to allocate resources where they are most needed. The Healthy People goals are 10-year targets for improving the health of Americans through health promotion activities and disease prevention efforts. In relation to occupation, prior research that has evaluated HRQOL has typically focused on employment status, but not on specific job type. It’s been established, however, that job characteristics such as high demand, low control, role stress, bullying, work hours, etc., are associated with greater risk for common mental health problems as well as physical outcomes like headaches, fatigue, and gastrointestinal problems. Our study wanted to determine if differences in HRQOL would exist among occupation groups. (more…)
Author Interviews, CDC, Occupational Health, Vaccine Studies / 26.05.2017 Interview with: Anup Srivastav, DVM, MPVM, PhD National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Atlanta GA What is the background for this study? Response: Healthcare personnel (HCP) are at risk for being exposed to pertussis (whooping cough) and spreading the disease to patients in their work settings. CDC recommends tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccination for healthcare personnel to reduce their risk of getting the disease and spreading it to patients. This is the first report of Tdap vaccination coverage among healthcare personnel by occupational setting. (more…)
Author Interviews, Mental Health Research, Occupational Health, Social Issues / 07.05.2017 Interview with: Tarani Chandola Professor of Medical Sociology Social Statistics Disciplinary Area of the School of Social Sciences University of Manchester What is the background for this study? Response: We (the authors) were particularly interested in examining evidence for the common perception that people at the top of the occupational hierarchy are the most stressed. And also what happens to people’s stress levels when they retire. We had assumed that people with poorer quality work to have decreased levels of stress when they retired. There have been other studies on this topic before, but none that have used salivary cortisol to measure physiological stress responses. We analysed changes in people’s stress levels before and after retirement, in a follow up study of over 1,000 older workers in the British civil service. Stress levels were measured by taking salivary cortisol samples across the day, from awakening until bedtime. (more…)
Author Interviews, Blood Pressure - Hypertension, Occupational Health / 05.05.2017 Interview with: Sandhya Manohar, MBBS, Nephrology Fellow Project mentor: Sandra M. Herrmann, MD Department of Nephrology and Hypertension Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN What is the background for this study? Response: In the last few decades advances in the field of industrialization and technology has turned our world into a 24-7 work zone. Many organizations have turned to a shift system to keep up with the demands of the new world. The consequent changes to our circadian rhythm have resulted in dramatic effects to our body’s physiology. Reports have been surfacing of higher rates of diabetes, obesity, and even cancer in this shift work population. The risk of hypertension though was controversial and so we set out to review this in our meta-analysis. (more…)
Addiction, Author Interviews, Lifestyle & Health, Occupational Health / 04.04.2017 Interview with: Jaana Halonen, Docent and Senior Researcher Finnish Institute of Occupational Health What is the background for this study? Response: Retirement is a significant life transition when substantial changes in daily life are experienced as retirees adapt to life without work. After retirement people have more leisure time and more opportunities for different activities, and less stress. These changes are positive, but retirement can also lead to reduced social control and loss of social contacts and therefore be perceived as a stressful life transition. Both the positive and negative aspects related to changes in leisure time, stress, and social networks around retirement may affect drinking behaviours. However, little is known about how risky alcohol consumption changes around the retirement transition. Thus, in our study we wanted to examine how and for whom risky drinking changes around the time of retirement. To do that we followed up public sector workers with questionnaires before and after their old-age retirement. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Occupational Health / 27.01.2017 Interview with: Prof. Dr. Regina Kunz Professorin für Versicherungsmedizin Evidence-based Insurance Medicine I Departement Klinische Forschung Universitätsspital Basel Basel Switzerland What is the background for this study? Response: Many workers seek wage replacement benefits due to a disabling illness or injury. Public and private insurance systems provide wage replacement benefits for such employees, as long as eligibility criteria are met. Insurers often arrange for evaluation of eligibility by medical professionals, but there are concerns regarding low quality evaluations and poor reliability between medical experts assessing the same claimant. In order to better understand this situation, we performed a systematic review of reproducibility studies on the inter-rater agreement in evaluation of disability. We carried out a systematic review of 23 studies, conducted between 1992-2016, from 12 countries in Europe, North America, Australia, the Middle East, and Northeast Asia. The studies include those carried out in an insurance setting, with medical experts assessing claimants for work disability benefits, and in a research setting, where evaluation of patients took place outside of actual assessments, for example, for rehabilitation. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Occupational Health, Orthopedics / 31.12.2016 Interview with: Kurt T. Hegmann, M.D., M.P.H. Director, Rocky Mtn. Center for Occupational and Environmental Health Chief, Division of Occupational and Environmental Health The University of Utah Health Care What is the background for this study? Response: This line of work for us began approximately 20 years ago. Normal tendons never rupture, as the weak point when loading the muscle-tendon unit is either the muscle-tendon junction (i.e., a true muscle strain) or bone-tendon junction. Researchers in the 1960s reported there is poor blood supply in the area of rotator cuff tendon tears, providing one of the two main etiological theories of rotator cuff tears. The other main theory is “impingement syndrome” or a biomechanical impingement in the shoulder joint. Though who experience this might find that they need something similar to this shoulder dislocation surgery. Naturally, both theories could co-exist. Next, we noted rotator cuff tendinitis and shoulder risks from tobacco in other studies. We also reported prior research of increased risks with obesity. These led us to the theory that these rotator cuff tears are likely vascular in etiology. The next problem was to show this. (more…)
Addiction, Author Interviews, Occupational Health / 04.11.2016 Interview with: Dr. Barry Sample PhD Senior director, science and technology Quest Diagnostics Employer Solutions A business of Quest Diagnostics What is the background for this study of drug testing of the U.S. workforce? Response: As a leader in the drug testing industry, our primary goal at Quest Diagnostics Employer Solutions is to help employers maintain drug-free workplaces and combat the impacts of substance abuse such as higher absenteeism, increased risk of injury and lower productivity and performance. One way we support these efforts is to offer analysis and information from resources like the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™, which we publish as a public service for government, media, and industry. We’ve published the Drug Testing Index since 1988, which is also the year that Congress passed the Drug-Free Workplace Act. The Drug Testing Index examines positivity rates – the proportion of positive drug test results – among three major testing populations: federally-mandated, safety-sensitive workers; the general (private sector) U.S. workforce; and the combined U.S. workforce. Thresholds for positivity are determined by cutoff levels as established by the administrating authority; these cutoff levels determine the threshold for positivity for a specific substance. Should a metabolite appear at or above the level of the cutoff, a test is determined to be positive. Over the last few decades, testing policies have evolved to serve a dual purpose of protecting the health, safety, and welfare of both employees and the general public. That’s especially important in certain industries, such as transportation, where an impaired driver, pilot, or operator can create substantial public risk. The positivity rate in 1998, the year of the first Drug Testing Index, was 13.6 percent. Over the last 25 years, as we have tracked the overall positivity rate, we have noted other significant trends in the American workforce based on workplace drug tests. For example, our 2003 analysis revealed that amphetamine positivity had grown by 70 percent over the previous five years. The 2011 Drug Testing Index found that hydrocodone and oxycodone led U.S. general workforce positives. In both 2010 and 2011, the overall drug positivity rate was 3.5 percent, the lowest rate since we began publishing the Drug Testing Index. This year, we found positivity is at a ten-year high. What that tells us is that trends come and go, and that we cannot rely on assumptions about drug use. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Occupational Health / 12.10.2016 Interview with: Rasmus Rørth MD From Department of Cardiology Rigshospitalet University of Copenhagen, Denmark What is the background for this study? Response: Heart failure is considered to be one of the most common, costly, disabling and deadly medical conditions and is thus a major health care problem. The ability to maintain a full-time job addresses a vital indirect consequence and cost of heart failure, beyond the usual clinical parameters such as mortality and hospitalization. Ability to work is more than just another measure of performance status. As well as its financial importance, employment is crucial for self-esteem and quality of life in patients with chronic illness. Obtaining information on labour force inclusion should, therefore, shed light on an unstudied consequence of heart failure and provide a novel perspective on the impact of heart failure on the lives of those who, perhaps, have most to lose from this condition. (more…)
Author Interviews, Environmental Risks, Hearing Loss, JAMA, Occupational Health / 22.07.2016 Interview with: Harrison W. Lin, M.D. Assistant Professor Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery UC Irvine Medical Center Orange, CA 92868 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We reviewed the data from the Integrated Health Interview Series, which is a project funded by the National Institutes of Health to supplement the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), a household-based, personal interview survey administered by the US Census Bureau and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention since 1957. The NHIS serves as the largest source of health information in the civilian population of the United States. Analyzing the available data on tinnitus symptoms from this survey, we found that approximately 1 in 10 Americans have chronic tinnitus. Moreover, durations of occupational and leisure time noise exposures correlated with rates of tinnitus – people who reported higher rates of loud noise exposures at work and recreationally more frequently reported chronic tinnitus. Finally, health care providers provided advice and treatment plans to patients with chronic tinnitus that were infrequently in line with the clinical practice guidelines published by the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery Foundation. (more…)