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Research priorities in occupational health in Italy


OBJECTIVE To find a broad consensus on research priorities and strategies in the field of occupational health and safety in Italy.

METHODS A two phase questionnaire survey was based on the Delphi technique previously described in other reports. 310 Occupational safety and health specialists (from universities and local health units) were given an open questionnaire (to identify three priority research areas). The data obtained from respondents (175, 56.4%) were then used to draw up a list of 27 priority topics grouped together into five macrosectors. Each of these was given a score ranging from 1 (of little importance) to 5 ( extremely important). With the mean scores obtained from a total of 203 respondents (65.4%), it was possible to place the 27 topics in rank order according to a scale of priorities.

RESULTS Among the macrosectors, first place was given to the question of methodological approach to research in this field, and for individual topics, occupational carcinogenesis and quality in occupational medicine were ranked first and second, respectively. The question of exposure to low doses of environmental pollutants and multiple exposures ranked third among the priorities; the development of adequate and effective approaches and methods for worker education and participation in prevention was also perceived as being an important issue (fourth place).

CONCLUSIONS This study (the first of its kind in Italy) enabled us to achieve an adequate degree of consensus on research priorities related to the protection of occupational health and safety. Disparities in the mean scores of some of the issues identified overall as being research priorities, seem to be linked both to geographical area and to whether respondents worked in local health units or universities. This finding requires debate and further analysis.

  • research priorities
  • occupational health
  • strategies

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