Introduction In the Netherlands, we aimed to develop a multidisciplinary guideline for the Participatory Approach (PA) at the Workplace, in collaboration with insurance physicians, work experts, occupational health physicians, occupational health nurses, occupational hygienists, and occupational therapists.
Methods A working group of representatives from all 7 participating professions defined the topics that needed to be addressed by the guideline. When possible the guideline was based on scientific evidence. In case of none or insufficient scientific evidence, the working group formulated an expert opinion. After incorporating feedback from experts in the field the concept guideline was finalised. This whole process was supervised by a steering committee.
Results In the guideline, PA was defined as a systematic approach consisting of six predefined steps in which worker(s) and relevant stakeholders (e.g. supervisors or employer) reach consensus on the main problems and solutions for the worker(s)’s health problems and work participation. This results in an action plan defining who does what and when. One should start (step 1) with creating the right conditions and end with a proper evaluation of the pre-set goals (step 6). The guideline can be used to apply the PA at an organisational (mainly primary prevention and targeting groups of workers) or an individual level (treatment and re-integration of the individual worker). Our systematic literature review showed that the PA at an organisational level was effective for improving (determinants of) behaviour, reducing musculoskeletal symptoms, improving work performance, reducing sick leave and reducing costs. At the individual level the PA appeared especially effective to reduce sick leave and fasten return-to-work.
Discussion We successfully developed an evidence-based multidisciplinary guideline for the Participatory Approach at the Workplace. Currently, we face the challenge of successfully implementing the guideline in practice by arranging authorisation among the professional groups and giving trainings in the field.
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