Academic journal article Central European Journal of Public Health

Twenty Year Development of Occupational Diseases in the Czech Republic: Medical and Geographical Aspects

Academic journal article Central European Journal of Public Health

Twenty Year Development of Occupational Diseases in the Czech Republic: Medical and Geographical Aspects

Article excerpt

SUMMARY

The study analysed occupational diseases in the Czech Republic from the viewpoint of occupational medicine and medical geography. It used a dataset consisting of 32,646 cases of occupational diseases reported during the period of 1994-2013. The descriptive part of the study analysed occupational diseases according to their spatial distribution, occurrence in different branches of economic activities, employees' gender, and according to chapters of the List of occupational diseases. The incidence of occupational diseases showed an overall decreasing trend, which can be related to several factors - transformation of the national economy (shift from heavy industry to manufacturing industry and services), an improvement in access to occupational healthcare services, increased responsibility of employers for safe working conditions, but also a concealment of health problems by employees for fear of losing job. An exception to the decreasing trend is the automotive industry, in which the upward trend in occupational diseases occurrence was noted. The analytical part of the study focused on the relation between unemployment and occupational diseases incidence rates in different regions of the Czech Republic. In most regions, a statistically significant inverse association was shown between the rate of unemployment and occupational disease incidence. The situation is described in more detail for the Moravia-Silesia and Ústí nad Labem Regions and the Capital City of Prague, wherein a statistically significant inverse association was shown between the rate of unemployment and occupational disease incidence. The theory of marginal utility can explain the phenomenon. To certain degree of health problems, employees tend to prefer employment stability, especially if the unemployment is on rise in their region. On the other hand, if losing their job, they often try to claim benefits connected with occupational diseases.

Key words: occupational diseases, medical geography, geography of health, ecological correlational study, unemployment, risk factors

INTRODUCTION

Geography encompasses a scientific field called medical geography, which is defined by Meade and Emch (1) as an interdiscipline with overlaps between physical geography and social and medical sciences. It puts together biological, environmental and social aspects with an emphasis on relations of people, places, environment and time on the one hand and health issues on the other. Medical geography uses quantitative and qualitative methods, geographical information systems (GIS) and depicts spatial connections with map projection (2). A related term is health geography, which is applied in the area of public health and focuses more on the social aspect of health (3, 4).

Occupational diseases (OD) represent one of the most serious concequences of exposure to hazardous risk factors connected with occupation from the medical, social and economic point of view. Their occurrence is characterised by regional and industrial sector differences and demonstrates considerable time and space dependent dynamic. In 2013, we performed a pilot study, which analysed OD in automotive industry in the Central Bohemia Region during 2006-2011 (5,6). Results of the study pointed out the possible influence of socioeconomic factors such as employment stability and salary rates on the occurrence of OD.

The principle objective of this subsequent extended study is the analysis of spatial and time dependent trends of OD occurrence in the whole Czech Republic during the period of 20 years. We also attempted to answer the question, whether there is a relation between OD occurrence and unemployment rate, as it was suggested by our previous study.

MATERIALSAND METHODS

The period 1994-2013 was chosen for the study. Data on OD cases were retreived from The National Registry of Occupational Diseases (7), and were analysed according to employees' gender, age, List of OD, occupation risk category, and branch of economic activity. …

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