An integrated comprehensive occupational surveillance system for health care workers

Am J Ind Med. 2004 Jun;45(6):528-38. doi: 10.1002/ajim.20017.


Background: Workers in the health care industry may be exposed to a variety of work-related stressors including infectious, chemical, and physical agents; ergonomic hazards; psychological hazards; and workplace violence. Many of these hazards lack surveillance systems to evaluate exposures and health outcomes. The development and implementation of a comprehensive surveillance system within the Duke University Health System (DUHS) that tracks occupational exposures and stressors as well as injuries and illnesses among a defined population of health care workers (HCWs) is presented.

Methods: Human resources job and work location data were used to define the DUHS population at risk. Outcomes and exposure data from existing occupational health and safety programs, health promotion programs, and employee health insurance claims, were linked with human resources data and de-identified to create the Duke Health and Safety Surveillance System (DHSSS).

Results: The surveillance system is described and four examples are presented demonstrating how the system has successfully been used to study consequences of work-related stress, hearing conservation program evaluation, risk factors for back pain and inflammation, and exposures to blood and body fluids (BBF).

Conclusions: Utilization of existing data, often collected for other purposes, can be successfully integrated and used for occupational health surveillance monitoring of HCWs. Use of the DHSSS for etiologic studies, benchmarking, and intervention program evaluation are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Health Personnel*
  • Health Planning
  • Humans
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Exposure
  • Occupational Health*
  • Population Surveillance / methods*
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology