Objective Human talent is a major component of the coordinated action that is needed to conduct preventive efforts in Occupational Health. While a large number of graduate programs in Occupational Health have been recently created in Colombia; little is known about the knowledge that is being developed out of those programs. This study aimed to assess the contribution that recent thesis works have made to the Occupational Health field in Colombia.
Methods We attempted to identify and systematically describe by major topic, assessed risk factors, occupational health disease of interest and features of the study design all the thesis works produced during the last 8 years in accredited programs in the country.
Results We identified 466 works from 6 academic institutions. However, we could find information for only 355 of those works. Most of the studies were found to have medium quality. Most studies tried to evaluate working conditions (84.5%) and were observational field studies (70.1%); however, the employed evaluation criteria were typically missing in the reports. Also, there were a large number of reviews (18.7%). The most commonly investigated area was ergonomics (55.3%); and within that area, the most commonly analysed topic was the psychosocial risk factors and the risks associated with physical demands. Accordingly, the most attention was given to musculoskeletal disorders. The general topic with the least number of contributions was Occupational Medicine (6.7%).
Conclusions This distribution of thesis works generally corresponds with the needs of the country based on the official country’s prevalence of occupational disease. Nevertheless, we recommend that more efforts are dedicated to study vulnerable populations in the informal sector that makes up most of the working population in the country and are not subjected to official recording. Also, efforts should be made so that academic programs define minimum thesis’ scope and quality requirements.