Development and maturation of the occupational health services research field in the United States over the past 25 years: Challenges and opportunities for the future

Authors: Jeanne M Sears, Thomas M Wickizer, Gary M Franklin, Deborah Fulton-Kehoe, Peggy A Hannon, Jeffrey R Harris, Janessa M Graves, Patricia M McGovern.

Historical Development and Evolution of OHSR

Over the past 25 years, the field of Occupational Health Services Research (OHSR) has expanded significantly in both scope and definition in the United States. This growth has been driven by the need to address the persistent issue of work-related injuries, which remain prevalent and impose substantial health and economic burdens on workers and society. OHSR focuses on the determinants of worker health, the effectiveness of healthcare delivery, and the impact of health systems on worker well-being. This commentary traces the historical development and evolution of OHSR, outlines the current state of doctoral-level training programs, and discusses the challenges and opportunities for the future.

Updated Definition and Future Opportunities

The authors propose an updated definition for OHSR, emphasizing its multidisciplinary nature and its crucial role in improving healthcare, health systems, and policy to enhance worker health, productivity, and equity. The field encompasses research and evaluation related to worker health determinants, injury and illness prevention, healthcare programs and policies affecting workers, and the organization, access, quality, outcomes, and costs of occupational health services and related systems. Looking forward, the commentary highlights the importance of expanding OHSR academic training opportunities and supporting the continued growth of this essential field.


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