Scripties UMCG - Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
English | Nederlands

De werkenemer als boormachine? : Stage wetenschap ethiek, bedrijfsgeneeskunde en Quantified Self

(2016) Hoogen, R.F.M. (Rosa)

This is a qualitative research on the responsibilities for health and health promotion in the workplace, from the perspective of new technologies like wearables and Quantified Self. This research is divided into two parts; the first part being a literature study, the second part consists of interviews with occupational physicians (OP’s). 7 OP’s were interviewed, and these interviews were coded and analyzed with use of ATLAS.ti.
Both the literature study and the interviews show that it is not possible to hold one party responsible for health in the workplace. The employee can be held responsible for his own health to a great extent. Nevertheless, bad health can also be a result of socioeconomic status, bad luck or lack of rational action, and the individual cannot be held accountable for those factors. A number of OP’s explained this individual responsibility of the employee with comparing them to a machine. This machine metaphor can be traced back to the 18th century tradition of materialism in medicine.
Another part of the responsibility for health in the workplace lies with the employer. He could be held responsible for creating an healthy workplace and facilitate the options for the employee to make the right health choices. The OP’s could be responsible for guiding both parties, and giving them the right medical information and background. This task will be increasingly important with the rise of new technological interventions and eHealth. Through activity trackers like pedometers this type of eHealth can be applied in the workplace. Activity trackers are a rapidly developing branch of corporate wellness, which has yet to gain evidence of its health effect. These technological applications are intertwined with our everyday lives and can have an effect on health behavior with merely being there – both in the workplace and beyond. OP’s stated that they were interested in using these technologies in their daily practice, as long as there is enough evidence for their health effect. The question is whether these developments fit in the tradition of evidence based medicine, because they are integrated with many more aspects of daily life. That is why these developments require a more culture-analytic and interdisciplinary approach.
As a result of the above mentioned technologies and pressure from the government to keep costs of healthcare as low as possible, there is a shift towards preventive medicine. This research shows that if the OP’s want to keep on track with these developments, their profile might be in need of a reassessment. There is a need for a holistic view on health in the workplace, with an emphasis on continuity of healthcare, integration of new technologies and cooperation with doctors from the curative field of healthcare.

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