Fitness for work in health care workers: State of the art and possible operational recommendations for its formulation and management in relationship to alcohol and drug addiction

L. Riboldi, L. Bordini, M. M. Ferrario

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Both chronic and acute alcohol or drug consumption have severe health consequences, alter the subject's cognitive functions and work performance and increase the risk of work-related accidents, for the worker and for third parties (eg., co-workers and other people subject to negative impact of worker's actions). Limited scientific evidence has suggested that some working conditions present in the health care sector (e.g., high levels of responsibility, competitiveness, burnout, shiftwork, work-related stress) may favour alcohol and drug abuse. The aim of the present report is to describe the problem of alcohol and drug consumption among health care professionals and to evaluate the problem of related fitness for work. The magnitude of this problem remains unclear; recent estimates have reported alcohol abuse and addiction problems in 1-14% and psychotropic, illicit and non-illicit, substance abuse in 6-15% of health care workers. The prevalence of tranquilizer and sedative/hypnotic drug use is high, particularly among physicians. However, it remains unclear whether the incidence of workplace accidents and injuries is higher among drug abusers, and whether the statutory introduction of prevention programmes has led to actual control of this problem in the workplace. Italian legislation identifies the occupational physician as a key figure to prevent psychotropic substance abuse in some work activities, but some difficulties in its application remain. Legislators should issue simple norms that clearly define the responsibilities and skills of each actor involved in safeguarding workplace health and safety, as well as clearly outlining workplace monitoring procedures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-211
Number of pages9
JournalMedicina del Lavoro
Volume103
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2012

Keywords

  • Alcohol
  • Drugs
  • Fitness for work
  • Health care workers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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