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Health promotion across occupational groups: one size does not fit all

14 Sep 2015

Background

Although several studies have examined the link between specific working conditions and health behaviours, very few have comparatively assessed the health behaviours of different occupational groups.

Aims

To compare protective and risky health behaviours among police officers, ambulance workers, hospital staff (doctors and nurses) and office workers, prompted by the need to identify key areas for interventions tailored to the needs of different occupational groups.

Methods

A cross-sectional postal survey using the Health Behaviours Inventory, assessing health behaviours which are risky (alcohol intake, smoking, coffee consumption, fast food meals and painkiller consumption) and protective (physical activity, eating breakfast and hours of sleep).

Results

The sample consisted of 1451 employees. Ambulance workers smoked the most cigarettes per day (F (4, 1405) = 8.63, P < 0.01), while doctors consumed twice as many fast food meals as any other occupational group (F (4, 1415) = 78.45, P < 0.01) and had the highest daily caffeine consumption (F (4, 1440) = 11.17, P < 0.01). Ambulance workers and doctors reported the highest frequency of alcohol consumption per week (F (4, 1421) = 10.13, P < 0.01). In regard to protective health behaviours, office workers reported the highest number of breakfast meals per week (F (4, 1431) = 5.7, P < 0.01) and sleeping hours per night (F (4, 1438) = 170.34, P < 0.01), while police officers and ambulance workers exercised more frequently (F (4, 1420) = 5.764, P < 0.01).

Conclusions

The results of the study highlight key priorities for health promotion for different occupational groups which need to be taken into consideration in policy making and developing workplace interventions.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Occupational Medicine