Work, lifestyle and health: monitoring health of employees (MORE study) (WC2006-079)

Background

Starting date: 01/02/2009
In occupational health, a shift has occurred from curation towards prevention. Signaling employees at risk at an early stage is necessary for successful secondary prevention programs. Surprisingly little is known about predictive models including work load, lifestyle characteristics or personal characteristics as predictors of sick leave and health in the Netherlands.
A lot of information about risk factors (such as jobtype, work load, work (dis)ability, personal characteristics and personal situation) is filed in company databases. Besides sick leave, information about job turnover and accidents at work is available. A research question is whether the associations between these data in longitudinal statistical models, may predict sick leave, job turnover and accidents at the workplace.
Shift work and irregular working hours are important themes in occupational health care. Another research question therefore is what kind of aspects of this kind of work are predictors of future sick leave, turnover and accidents at work. The research project aims to investigate the predictors in a cohort of employees using administrative data.
 
In addition, a randomized controlled trial will be performed with a group of airline pilots.
It is known that long and irregular working hours, and the crossing of time zones have large influence on the health of aircrew. These working conditions cause travel fatigue, reduced sleep quality and quantity, and a disruption of the circadian rhythm. This latter in turn causes jet lag symptoms. All these factors contribute to increased fatigue. Subsequently, prolonged fatigue can lead to health problems, impaired performance capability and a disturbed work life balance. In recent years more knowledge has become available about the influencing factors of the disturbance of the biological clock and the circadian rhythm. Moreover, several measures have been proposed to counter the negative effects of the working conditions of aircrews. However, it proves to be difficult to translate this knowledge into practical advice and training programs for the personnel involved.
In summary, it is unclear what the effects are of specific, continuous, fatigue reducing training programs for aircrews. Further, to our knowledge, such a program has not been applied and tested in an appropriate way yet. Therefore, the aim is to develop an intervention for airline pilots and to study its effect on fatigue, health and sickness absence.