Background: Although the medical, financial and prognostic factors of occupational contact dermatitis (OCD) have been addressed, studies on the social outcome of OCD are sparse.
Objective: To define the medical and psychosocial outcome of patients with OCD.
Methods: Workers with OCD were interviewed by telephone using a questionnaire that included questions about the occupation, dermatological disease, sick leave, present working status and disability claims, and questions related to the subjective perceptions of OCD in all areas of psychosocial functioning and quality of life.
Results: Seventy workers (64.3% males and 35.7% females) were interviewed. Forty per cent had stopped working and one-third had taken sick leave because of OCD. Forty-seven (67.1%) were currently working while 23 (32.8%) were unemployed. Disability compensation was claimed by only 41.4% and was received by 24.3%. Eight workers (11.4%) had persistent postoccupational dermatitis (PPOD). Loss of employment affected the occupational area of the workers' lives (100%), and also interpersonal relationships (45.7%), relationships within the family (18.6%), daily functioning (45.7%) and mental health (24.3%).
Conclusions: Considerable working time is lost because of unemployment or sick leave due to OCD. Only a small proportion of eligible patients with OCD apply for disability compensation and an even smaller proportion receive it. Our study demonstrates the significance of OCD to the psychosocial aspects of workers' lives and emphasizes that the assessment of OCD outcome should relate not only to the medical but also to the psychosocial aspect of the disease.