Letters to the Editor

Screening Questionnaire for Work-Related Health Problems


Am Fam Physician. 2011 Jun 1;83(11):1247.

Original Article: Recognizing Occupational Illnesses and Injuries

Issue Date: July 15, 2010

Available at: https://www.aafp.org/afp/2010/0715/p169.html

to the editor: We were delighted to see the article on recognizing occupational illnesses and injuries. Most adults spend a large part of their time at work, and it does impact their health.

Approximately 14 years ago, responding to a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, the seven family medicine programs in South Carolina cooperated to produce a curriculum to teach environmental and occupational medicine to family medicine residents.1,2 We created a set of five questions that physicians can use to screen patients for possible occupation-related health problems (see accompanying figure).3 We kept the format brief to minimize the time required to complete the screening while maximizing usefulness. Our questions were similar to those presented in the article, but different enough to merit mention.

The WHACS Questions


The WHACS questions for screening for occupational health problems.

Information from reference 3.

The WHACS Questions


The WHACS questions for screening for occupational health problems.

Information from reference 3.

These screening questions are the result of expert opinion (Strength of Recommendation: C), just as those mentioned in the article. Little research has been published to examine a set of questions as sensitive, specific, time-effective, and cost-effective. More research is needed to create screening questions that can identify potential work-related health problems in a brief time and that will not overly burden primary care physicians.

Author disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


1. Schuman SH, Simpson WM, Smith WA. Environmental risk assessment: does it work for the community-based family physician? In: Proceedings from the Environmental Hazard Assessment Program/Family Medicine Symposium; October 26–27, 1995; Charleston, S.C.

2. Schuman SH, Simpson WM, Smith WA. The primary care physician as a bridge between disease causation and environmental risk. In: Proceedings of the Second EHAP Symposium; November 14–15, 1996; Charleston, S.C.

3. Division of Public Health and Publice Service Department of Family Medicine—Medical University of South Carolina. WHACS. http://www.musc.edu/oem/whacsinfo.html. Accessed September 28, 2010.

Send letters to afplet@aafp.org, or 11400 Tomahawk Creek Pkwy., Leawood, KS 66211-2680. Include your complete address, e-mail address, and telephone number. Letters should be fewer than 400 words and limited to six references, one table or figure, and three authors.

Letters submitted for publication in AFP must not be submitted to any other publication. Possible conflicts of interest must be disclosed at time of submission. Submission of a letter will be construed as granting the AAFP permission to publish the letter in any of its publications in any form. The editors may edit letters to meet style and space requirements.

This series is coordinated by Kenny Lin, MD, MPH, Associate Deputy Editor for AFP Online.



Copyright © 2011 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
This content is owned by the AAFP. A person viewing it online may make one printout of the material and may use that printout only for his or her personal, non-commercial reference. This material may not otherwise be downloaded, copied, printed, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any medium, whether now known or later invented, except as authorized in writing by the AAFP. Contact afpserv@aafp.org for copyright questions and/or permission requests.

Want to use this article elsewhere? Get Permissions


Jun 15, 2021

Access the latest issue of American Family Physician

Read the Issue

Email Alerts

Don't miss a single issue. Sign up for the free AFP email table of contents.

Sign Up Now

Navigate this Article