Special section

Scand J Work Environ Health 1998;24(5):439-463    pdf


Audit matrix for evaluating Finnish occupational health units

by Martimo K-P

Objectives The aim of this article is to describe how an audit matrix for occupational health units was formulated, what the preliminary results tell about its applicability, and how the matrix can help to implement the principles of "good practice in occupational health services".

Methods Twelve areas eligible for auditing were selected for the matrix. According to the recently issued principles of good practice, the principles of total quality management and continuous quality improvement, each area was divided into descriptions of 4 quality levels, the lowest being given 0 points and the highest 5-6 points. The maximum total score was 72 points.

Results Of the 30 external audits, no unit had less than 18 points. Nine units had 19-36 points, 17 units had 37-54 points, and 4 units had over 54 points. "Maintenance of work ability" received the highest mean of the given points (4.1), followed by "curative care" (4.0) and "multidisciplinarity" (3.9). The lowest means were for "planning of activities" (3.1), "customer orientation" (3.2), and "quality improvement" (3.2).

Conclusion The audit matrix proved to be a practical method for auditing occupational health units, revealing both the most common flaws and strengths in the quality of Finnish occupational health services. Because the matrix has been accepted well by occupational health professionals and it manages to classify the units, it is probably a useful instrument for evaluating the performance of occupational heatlh units and promoting good practice.