Occupational physicians' perceived barriers and suggested solutions to improve adherence to a guideline on mental health problems: Analysis of a peer group training

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Despite the impact of mental health problems on sickness absence, only few occupational health guidelines addressing these problems are available. Moreover, adherence has found to be suboptimal. To improve adherence to the Dutch guideline on mental health problems a training was developed for Dutch occupational physicians (OPs) focusing on identifying barriers and addressing them. The aim of this study was to provide an overview of the barriers that OPs perceived in adhering to the Dutch guideline on mental health problems as well as their solutions to overcome them.
A qualitative study was conducted using data from the peer group training. Thirty-two (6 groups of 4 to 6) OPs received a multiple-session interactive training over the course of a year, focusing on identifying and addressing barriers, using a Plan-Do-Check-Act approach. Sessions were audio-taped and transcribed verbatim. Thematic content analysis was performed by two researchers with a selection of 50 % (21 out of 42) of the transcripts to identify the perceived barriers and the suggested solutions, using AtlasTi 7.0.
Knowledge-related barriers were perceived regarding the content of all parts of the guideline. Commonly perceived attitude-related barriers were a lack of self-efficacy to perform certain guideline recommendations and difficulties with changing habits and routines. External barriers that were commonly perceived were work-contextual barriers, such as a lack of time/work pressure, tight contracts between occupational health services (OHSs) and employers, and conflicting policy of and a lack of collaboration with other parties (e.g. employer, other healthcare providers). The most often tested solutions by OPs during the training were sharing information, experiences, tips and tricks and referring to existing tools, or developing new tools to facilitate guideline usage.
Dutch OPs perceive a range of knowledge-related, attitude-related and external barriers in adhering to the guideline on mental health problems. The tested solutions during the training particularly seemed to focus on knowledge and attitude-related barriers. To optimally implement this or similar mental health guidelines, it may be important to complement guideline training and education of individual or groups of OPs, with interventions that address external barriers such as changing tight contracts, or improving communication and collaboration with other parties.
Mental health, Practice guideline, Occupational medicine, Barriers, Solutions, Implementation
Original languageEnglish
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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