Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Work-related ill-health as determined in General Practice
Author: Hussey, Louise
ISNI:       0000 0004 2737 5304
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2013
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
Introduction: Work-related ill-health and resulting sickness absence is detrimental to the employees themselves, the employer and the national economy as a whole. To reduce the risk of work on health, information about causal factors and sectors at risk must first be gathered. General practice had been referred to as the ‘blind spot’ in occupational health as so little was known about work-related ill-health seen by GPs. The principal aim of this thesis was to estimate the incidence of work-related ill-health in the UK/GB as determined in general practice, to critically compare general practice reporting with other data sources and to evaluate the incidence and sickness absence burden of work-related ill-health. Methods: Data on incident cases of work-related ill-health and sickness absence were collected from GPs reporting to a UK-wide surveillance scheme (The Health and Occupation Reporting network in General Practice (THOR-GP)), and compared to information from other sources. To enable the calculation of incidence rates, THOR-GP population denominator information was gathered and characterised using Census information based on patient and practice postcode. Results were presented as a series of four peer-reviewed published papers and an additional chapter exploring the calculation of incidence rates.Results: The work-related ill-health diagnoses reported by GPs were mainly musculoskeletal (53%) and mental ill-health (30%). Overall, half the cases were issued with sickness certification. The proportion of cases issued with sickness certification differed by diagnosis; 79% of psychological cases had certified time away from work and these conditions were responsible for the majority of sickness absence days certified (56%) however these cases were rarely referred to secondary care (1%). Industries operating within the public and financial sectors had the highest incidence rates of work-related mental ill-health and correspondingly the highest rates of sickness absence. Industries with the highest proportions of self-employment had the lowest rates of sickness absence. When compared to reports from occupational physicians (OPs), GP information was more representative of the employed population of the UK, whereas OP data concentrated on industries covered by occupational health services. Incidence rates based on clinical specialists’ reports were much smaller than GP rates and biased by severity and referral patterns. Rates based on self-reported (SWI) data were higher than GP rates due to greater inclusivity; however diagnoses were unsubstantiated by medical opinion. The THOR-GP population denominator was characterised using approximately a million patient postcodes (and linking these to Census data) from over a hundred GPs. These population estimates compared well with those based on the practice postcode and enabled the calculation of incidence rates of work-related ill-health for this and (with weighting methods) the GB population. Rates of work-related ill-health were highest for those employed within construction and agriculture.Conclusion: This thesis has shown how the systematic collection of work-related ill-health data from GPs adds to the knowledge base about the distribution and determinants of work-related ill-health (and sickness absence) within the UK/GB workforce. This work also contributes to knowledge relating to the ‘primary care denominator problem’ in calculating rates of incidence from general practice.
Supervisor: Turner, Susan; Agius, Raymond Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: General Practice ; Work-related ill-health