EU told to use workplace to prevent chronic disease

The European Union should increase its focus on the workplace as a setting for preventing chronic disease, according to the conclusions of a European Network for Workplace Health Promotion initiative. Early detection is crucial, and member states should develop and boost screening programmes for the most common diseases, it suggests.

There should be a policy shift at both EU and national level away from focusing on what people with chronic diseases cannot do at work to a capability-based approach, addressing the discrimination that such people often face and raising the importance of return to work on policy agenda.

The rehabilitation and retention of workers with chronic diseases often involves many people and agencies, but needs coordinating in a case-managed approach, a concluding report of the initiative suggests. Random collaboration between these parties, coupled with unclear role profiles, wastes resources and increases the risk that the employee with a chronic disease becomes a “pinball in the profession”, it adds.

European Network for Workplace Health Promotion (2013). “Recommendations from ENWHP’s ninth initiative: Promoting healthy work for employees with chronic illness – public health and work”.

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