Invited article

Scand J Work Environ Health 1999;25(6):625-632    pdf


Challenges facing occupational health services in the 21st century

by Westerholm P

The mission and tasks of occupational health services are reviewed in the context of the global megatrends of productivity increase, population overgrowth, and the implications of changes in the technology of information and communication. Current trends in attempts to achieve harmonization with respect to the concept and tasks of occupational health services in the European Union are described, along with the basic features of occupational health services as a human service organization with implications for the setting of objectives and criteria for assessing quality and performance and ethics. The need to adopt a quality-focused approach to occupational health service programs is emphasized, and some of the inhibitions and obstacles to quality work are mentioned. The need for professional commitment to develop and implement quality concepts is outlined. Evidence-based health care in the setting of occupational health services and some salient aspects of professional ethics in the 21st century are commented on.