Background: Knowledge of the results of studies on effectiveness of preventive interventions is a fundamental requirement in occupational medicine.
Objectives: The aim of this review was to identify Italian scientific production regarding this issue in the proceedings of the Italian Society of Occupational Medicine and Industrial Hygiene congresses over the last fifteen years.
Methods: An initial selection of the communications on intervention effectiveness studies was performed on the basis of titles, aims, tables and figures of each single presentation. A further selection was made via full reading of the previously selected communications. The selected articles were classified by type of strategy discussed, production sector, study design and several other criteria.
Results: 108 studies were selected out of the 3215 papers (3.4%) published in the congress proceedings examined (1989-2003). More than half of these discussed technical control strategies. In the vast majority of cases, the study design was a pre- and post-evaluation of effectiveness, and the 6 (non-randomised) trials concerned vaccination programmes. Almost a quarter of the studies on accident prevention regarded the effectiveness of training programmes. Only 5 studies could be detected in Medline as articles later published in international journals.
Conclusions: On the basis of the Italian Society of Occupational Medicine congress proceedings over the last 15 years, the percentage of communications concerning effectiveness of preventive interventions in occupational health was 3.4%. Intervention effectiveness papers published in congress proceedings seem to reveal a quite unexpected production of effectiveness evaluation studies. Nonetheless, recommendations need to be made to improve study design and to promote effective prevention and control strategies.