Objectives Studies identifying national occupational health (OH) research priorities have been conducted in several countries to establish where OH research should be focused and where funding should be targeted. However, the UK findings are now over 20 years old, and OH practice is continuously evolving. The aim of this study was to identify current research priorities for UK occupational physicians (OPs) and occupational health researchers (OHRs).
Methods Current research priorities in OH were identified using a modified Delphi technique. This was conducted in two rounds to achieve consensus. Research priorities were rated, and then ranked using questionnaires developed from expert panel discussions, key research topics identified from the medical literature and participant feedback. Overall and intergroup comparisons were completed for the ranking scores.
Results Consensus among OPs and OHRs was high with almost all (9/10) primary domains rated as ‘very important’ or ‘absolutely necessary’ by more than 54% of respondents. The research priority areas ranked highest were jointly economic evaluation/cost effectiveness studies and disability management followed by occupational disease/injury/illness. Occupational health policy was ranked lowest after sickness absence management and health promotion. The secondary domain analysis identified priority emphasis on mental health and psychosocial hazards within the workplace and the need to further develop evidence-based guidance for clinical OH practice.
Conclusions We identified the current research priorities for UK OPs and OHRs. The findings will inform future national OH research strategy and support research that addresses important knowledge gaps within OH and other interdisciplinary specialties.
- research priorities
- occupational physician
- occupational health researchers
- delphi study
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Contributors DL is the main author and contributed to the study concept and design; literature review; questionnaire development and distribution; data collation; and drafted the manuscript. ED contributed to the study design; questionnaire development and distribution; data analysis; and manuscript preparation. EBM, JS, IM and KA assisted with the study concept and design, and questionnaire development and distribution. All authors participated in the interpretation of the results and critical revision of the manuscript, and all authors approved the final version presubmission.
Funding ED was supported by the Medical Research Council (partnership grant MC/PC/13027).
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent Not required.
Ethics approval Ethical approval was obtained by the University of Glasgow, College of Medical, Veterinary & Life Sciences Ethics Committee (200150143).
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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