Background: Employees are increasingly provided with preventive health checks. However, participation rates are low and several ethical issues arise, such as a potential perceived threat to autonomy and privacy.
Aims: To assess what employees think about preventive health checks in the occupational setting.
Methods: Samples of construction workers and the general working population in the Netherlands completed a survey about preventive health checks in the occupational setting. We asked half of each sample about potential benefits and drawbacks of health checks, and the other half about how they should be offered. We employed explorative factor analysis to identify constructs related to perceived benefits and drawbacks, and the way health checks should be provided. We then conducted descriptive analyses and t-tests to compare subgroups of respondents.
Results: A total of 482 (27%) of construction workers and 738 (65%) employees from the general population responded. The overall survey response rate was 42% with 41% completing the first questionnaire and 42% the second. We identified three constructs related to perceived benefits and drawbacks: self-control over health, disturbance and negative emotion and lack of autonomy. Participants rated 'self-control over health' as the highest potential benefit (mean = 3.40; SD = 0.69), and 'your employer interfering in your personal life' as the most important potential drawback (mean = 3.27; SD = 1.00). Participants indicated that they would like to receive help from their occupational physician when an increased health risk is identified (mean = 4.02; SD = 0.69).
Conclusions: Employees are ambivalent and hesitant concerning preventive health checks in the occupational setting.
Keywords: Consumer attitudes; health promotion; healthy lifestyles; lay perspectives; occupational health services; patient attitudes; prevention; risk assessment; survey..
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