The basis for occupational medicine practice
In evidence-based medicine (EbM), medical decisions are not made solely on the basis of the opinions and experiences of individual experts. Instead, findings from the best evidence available from patient-oriented research are included.
© Uwe Völkner, Fotoagentur FOX
Systematic literature reviews are core elements of evidence-based decision making. In the clinical practice of EbM, in addition to clinical expertise and scientific evidence, patients' preferences, or those of the public or employees are taken into account.
In evidence-based occupational health the principles of evidence-based medicine are applied to issues of work-related health. This includes, for example, an effectiveness assessment of preventive measures, starting with organizational measures, up to occupational health screening, and to return-to-work programmes
Even though experimental research design remains the gold standard for evaluating the effectiveness of therapeutic, rehabilitative or preventive measures, evidence-based medicine is not limited to randomised controlled trails and meta-analyses. For example, cohort studies are ideally used for examining work-related health risk factors.
In addition, qualitative research methods in particular are appropriate for a better understanding of complex interactions and for describing by why which measures and under what circumstances they are effective. This is crucial primarily for the transfer of evidence-based findings into practice. Evidence-based (occupational) health therefore comprises the search for the best evidence, taking into account the respective suitable study design for any concrete problem.
Depending on the target group, there are different formats for the transfer of evidence-based findings into practice. For example, evidence-based health information is suitable for comprehensive information of patients, the public or employees.
Medical guidelines are being developed to make the knowledge available as an orientation guidance and decision-making aid in medical practice. In addition, the German Network for Evidence-Based Medicine (Deutsche Netzwerk Evidenzbasierte Medizin e. V. - DNEbM) is involved in the dissemination of EbM concepts and methods into practice, teaching and research.
The application and further development of evidence-based methods in occupational medicine is also an important field of work for the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA). In this way, the increasing demand for evidence-based information and decision-making from science, politics and the professional public are reflected in health safety.
Along with the development of evidence-based methods in occupational medicine BAuA prepares systematic reviews in the occupational health and safety field and collaborates in the development of occupational medicine guidelines.