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Maritime epidemiology


Å. Irgens1, M. Grønning1,2, K. Troland1, E. Sundal1, F. Goplen3, S. H. G. Nordahl3, H. Nyland2,4, H. Skeidsvoll2, E. Thorsen1,5.1Department of Occupational Medicine, 2Department of Neurology, 3Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery, Haukeland University Hospital, Norway, 4Institute of Neurology, 5Institute of Medicine. University of Bergen, Norway

Introduction: Complaints about deteriorated health have for several years been raised among former North Sea divers, initiating in 2000 a study at request of the Norwegian Health authorities.

Methods: Ninety six out of the 375 former Norwegian North Sea divers were through their medical doctor referred to Haukeland University Hospital (HUS) where a thorough examination was performed. A case control design was used with two control groups. One was a random sample of the male general population (151) matched by age and the other comprised the former North Sea divers not referred to HUS. The three groups filled in a questionnaire that gave personal background data, data on diving education, diving activity, and social and economic status. Former and present disease as well as actual health status was recorded using a modified SF36 and Fatigue Severity Scales.

Results: Cerebral/spinal decompression sickness (DCS) (OR 6.84 (CI 2.37 to 20.1)) and other types of DCS were more frequent (OR 5.99 (CI 2.69 to 14.28)) among referred divers compared to non-referred. Referred divers reported more years of diving exposure, more air dives and days in saturation, and a higher maximal depth than non-referred divers. They also reported more symptoms from the nervous system and the musculoskeletal systems and had more psychological complaints, forgetfulness, attention deficiency, joint pain, and tiredness were the most prevalent symptoms. The prevalence of complaints was significantly higher than in …

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