Objectives Patients' trust in their doctors influences health outcomes. However, it is not known how health and work perceptions affect expectations of or trust in occupational physicians (OHPs). This study examines the hypothesis that there is a mismatch between workers' and OHPs' expectations of occupational health services (OHS) in the context of vocational rehabilitation. It further examines the hypothesis that the size of this mismatch is associated with health and work perceptions.
Methods In a cross-sectional, prospective, questionnaire study expectations towards OHS were measured in 81 workers and compared with those of 18 OHPs. Principal component analysis identified the main variables. The difference between workers' and OHPs' expectations was assessed with Hotelling-t test. Linear regression analysis identified significant associations of health and work perceptions with workers' expectations.
Results Expectations differed between workers and OHPs (p<0.00001). OHPs agreed more strongly with most statements on professional occupational health standards. A higher score of workers' expectations was positively associated with perceived manager support (p=0.00005, Z=-5.5 vs Z=-3.2 for least vs most support) and work apprehension (p=0.0007, Z=-5.3 vs Z=-2.2 for least vs highest work apprehension). Job title, previous occupational health consultations and recovery expectations were not significantly associated with workers' expectations.
Conclusions These results confirm a mismatch between workers' and OHPs' expectations of OHS, and that the size of this mismatch is associated with health and work perceptions. These findings augment previous research linking workplace factors, trust in OHS and work outcomes.
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