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Occupational health research priorities in Malaysia: a Delphi study
  1. S Sadhra,
  2. J R Beach,
  3. T-C Aw,
  4. K Sheikh-Ahmed
  1. Institute of Occupational Health, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2 TT, UK
  1. Dr S Sadhras.sadhra{at}


OBJECTIVES As part of a consultancy project on occupational health, the Delphi method was used to identify research priorities in occupational health in Malaysia.

METHODS Participation was sought from government ministries, industry, and professional organisations, and university departments with an interest in occupational and public health. Two rounds of questionnaires resulted in a final list of priorities, with noticeable differences between participants depending on whether they worked in industry or were from government organisations.

RESULTS The participation rate of 71% (55 of 78) was obtained for the first questionnaire and 76% (72 of 95) for the second questionnaire. The participants identified occupational health problems for specific groups and industries as the top research priority area (ranked as top priority by 25% of participants). Ministry of Health participants placed emphasis on healthcare workers (52% ranking it as top priority), whereas those from industry identified construction and plantation workers as groups, which should be accorded the highest priority. Evaluation of research and services was given a low priority.

CONCLUSIONS The priorities for occupational health determined with the Delphi approach showed differences between Malaysia, a developing country, and findings from similar European studies. This may be expected, as differences exist in stages of economic development, types of industries, occupational activities, and cultural attitudes to occupational health and safety. Chemical poisonings and workplace accidents were accorded a high priority. By contrast with findings from western countries, workplace psychosocial problems and musculoskeletal injuries were deemed less important. There also seemed to be greater emphasis on adopting interventions for identified problems based on experience in other countries rather than the need to evaluate local occupational health provisions.

  • occupational health
  • research priorities
  • Malaysia

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