Introduction In 2015, implementation of the Brief Job Stress Questionnaire (also known as the ‘stress-check programme’) became a legal obligation for employers in Japan. The Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare of Japan recommends that an occupational physician (OP) should play an important role in implementing this programme. This study aimed to compare the activities of Japanese part-time OPs in 2008 and 2016 and and to investigate the effects of the stress-check programme.
Methods Questionnaires were sent via mail to 946 part-time OPs in the Kyoto prefecture of Japan in 2016. Completed questionnaires were returned by 181 OPs who were private practitioners or physicians in hospitals. Questions about the types and sizes of the industries where the OPs served, allocation of service hours, and difficulties encountered in their activities were included in the questionnaire. The responses were compared to the results of the same survey in 2008 to determine the changes in OP activities and the problems encountered after implementing the stress-check programme.
Results In 2016, 22% of OPs utilised exceedingly long hours in the stress-check-related activities. Hours for specific health examination, health and hygiene education, health promotion activity, and development of a comfortable workplace reduced from 4.7 hours in 2008 to 2.0 hours in 2016. A total of 62% OPs frequently encountered difficulties in the stress-check-related activities in 2016. Many OPs also reported difficulties in the management of mental health and overwork, and support of employees’ return to work in both 2008 and 2016.
Discussion Enforcement of the stress-check programme in 2015 changed the activities of part-time OPs in Japan. This programme might impose problems on OPs. Therefore, OPs should be given specific opportunities to gain more information and skills in these areas.
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