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Keywords:

  • information-seeking behavior;
  • questions and answers;
  • information needs;
  • information facilities;
  • occupational safety and health

Abstract

Background

Currently, little is known about workers' occupational safety and health (OSH) information-seeking behavior.

Methods

We assessed whether Dutch workers have (OSH) questions, what motivates them to seek information or advice to solve these questions, and whether workers actually find the information they are looking for. A random sample of 888 workers from a large business panel were sent an online questionnaire. In total, 535 workers, likely parallel to the Dutch working population, returned the questionnaire (response rate 60%).

Results

In the last year, 380 of the 535 respondents (71%) had at least one OSH question. In total, 159 of the 380 respondents (42%) with an OSH question actively searched for information or advice. In a logistic regression analysis, three factors were identified to influence workers' information seeking: cognitions about personal benefits or costs of solving the question (OR = 2.8, 95% CI: 1.8–4.5), emotions that accompany the question (OR = 1.8, 95% CI: 1.1–3.0), and encouragement by the social environment (OR = 1.8, 95% CI: 1.0–3.0). In total, 50% of the respondents seeking information indicated they could not find (all) the information they sought. The barrier most often mentioned (47%) was the poor applicability of the information.

Conclusions

Although most workers have OSH questions, only 40% seek information or advice to answer their questions. Moreover, many OSH questions remain unanswered by common information facilities. This study provides input on how to develop campaigns and new facilities that may induce workers to seek information and that offer more applicable information. Am. J. Ind. Med. 55:250–259, 2012. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.