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

Author disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Original Article: Recognizing Occupational Illnesses and Injuries
Issue Date: July 15, 2010
Available at:

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.

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.

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This series is coordinated by Kenny Lin, MD, MPH, deputy editor.

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