Background The competencies required of occupational physicians (OPs) have been the subject of peer reviewed research in Europe and individual countries around the world. Although occupational health (OH) practice can vary among countries, there are core values, knowledge and skills characterising the specialty. In the European Union (EU), there has been development of guidance on training and common competencies, but little research has extended beyond this.
Aims The aim of this study was to obtain consensus on and identify the common core competencies required for OPs around the world.
Methods A modified Delphi study was carried out amongst representative organisations and networks of OPs in a range of countries around the world. It was conducted in two Rounds (‘rating’ and ‘ranking’) using a questionnaire based on the specialist training syllabus of a number of countries, expert panel reviews and conference discussions.
Results Responses were received from 51 countries around the world, with the majority from Europe (60%; 59%) and North and South America (24%; 32%) in Rounds 1 and 2, respectively. General principles of assessment & management of occupational hazards to health and good clinical care were jointly considered most important in ranking when compared with the other topic areas. Assessment of disability & fitness for work, communication skills and legal & ethical issues completed the top 5. In both Rounds, research methods and teaching & educational supervision were considered least important.
Conclusions This study has established the current priorities amongst OPs across 51 countries of the common competencies required for OH practice. These mutually identified priorities can serve as a platform to develop local training curricula and common core competencies/qualifications within specific geographical regions or internationally, particularly with globalisation of commerce and free movement within the EU. They can also help inform global policy on OH service delivery and quality standards.
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