Background: In 2002, a voluntary registry of occupational respiratory diseases was initiated in the test phase in Asturias, Catalonia, and Navarre (Spain). Based on data from the fully implemented voluntary registry, we assessed the differences in the incidence and characteristics of the diseases reported in the three regions studied and compared them with those notified to the compulsory official system.
Methods: Physicians whose daily practice includes patients with occupational respiratory diseases were invited to participate. Newly diagnosed cases occurring during 2003 in the work force of the three regions studied were reported on a notification form every 2 months. Data from the compulsory official notification system were obtained from statistics on work-related diseases for possible disability benefits.
Results: Five hundred thirty-three new cases, representing a cumulative incidence of 183.52 (168.27-199.78) per million workers per year, were reported. The number of cases and the incidence, overall and for each disease, causes of the diseases, and the occupations varied considerably between regions. The number of cases reported to the voluntary system was more than threefold greater than the number reported to the compulsory official system.
Conclusions: The compulsory scheme for reporting occupational respiratory diseases is seriously under-reporting in the three Spanish regions studied. Our voluntary surveillance program, which showed considerable differences in the characteristics and incidence of these diseases among the regions, appears to be more effective.
(c) 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.