Occupational Health in a Public Health Perspective

Course content

This is a specialized course within the area of occupational health research with an emphasis on the role of occupational exposures in relation to public health. The offset of the course is that being occupationally active can imply cognitive and social stimulation, one the one hand, and, on the other hand, it can also imply exposure to work-related stressors and demands that exceed the resources of the individual.

The course will start with a brief introduction to the organization of the Danish labor market including the historical development.

The body of the course covers a range of occupational exposures related to the psychosocial working environment, ergonomic exposures, working hours, negative social relations, and noise. These occupational exposures are discussed in relation to major public health challenges, including e.g. depression, musculoskeletal disorders, cardiovascular disease, dementia, accidents, and cancer. As part of the course, the mechanisms leading from exposures to diseases (e.g. the physiological stress response) will be covered.

To draw a clear line to public health and social medicine, the socioeconomic distribution of adverse exposures and the effects of these exposures on morbidity and mortality will be addressed. In addition, the course will address potentially vulnerable groups at the labor market such as young people, seniors, pregnant women, immigrants, and employees with reduced work ability. In relation to employees with reduced work ability, a module will be reserved for vocational rehabilitation and return-to-work including challenges related to long-term sickness absence.

Critical assessment of methods used in occupational health research (e.g. for the assessment of occupational exposures), including human biomonitoring and ethical issues is integrated in the course.

Depending on the available resources and possibilities, the course schedule will include a module outside of the University of Copenhagen (e.g. an occupational health clinic, the working environment authorities, or a local workplace). Furthermore, an international perspective can be added with examples from extreme working conditions occurring in non-Western countries.

The course consists of lectures and seminars with an emphasis on student participation and interactions between lecturers and students. Students are expected to actively contribute to group discussions. Furthermore, all students are expected to prepare and present part of the course curriculum in groups.

Education

MSc in Public Health Science - elective course

MSc in Global Health - elective course

MSc in Health Informatics - elective course

MSc in Health Science - elective course

MSc in Human Biology - elective course

Learning outcome

After completing the course the student is expected to:

Knowledge

  • describe the occupational exposures that are covered by the course’s curriculum, how these exposures can be measured, and provide examples of the health outcomes that they are associated with
  • explain the core ideas behind the theoretical models of psychosocial work factors
  • explain the role of occupational exposures in relation to major public health challenges and to social inequalities in health
  • explain what groups at labor market that can be seen as particularly vulnerable to adverse occupational exposures
  • understand the historical and societal context of occupational health in Denmark

 

Skills

  • assess the exposure profile of a specific occupational group/job type
  • discuss  strengths and limitations of theoretical models of psychosocial work factors
  • evaluate methodological strengths and limitations in measurements of occupational exposures
  • evaluate the validity of scientific studies on occupational exposures
  • identify vulnerable groups at the labor market
  • suggest strategies for vocational rehabilitation
  • discuss the implications of occupational exposures in relation to public health in general and social inequalities in health specifically

 

Competencies

  • analyze and describe the occupational exposures in a given job group
  • plan and carry out a scientific study on the effect of occupational exposures on the risk of positive and negative outcomes related to health and labor market affiliation while adhering to ethical guidelines
  • suggest strategies for vocational rehabilitation among people, for example, with chronic disorders or on long-term sickness absence

Lectures and seminars, including group work. Students should expect to prepare presentations of scientific papers in groups outside of the scheduled teaching hours.

The teaching material consists of text book chapters, scientific papers, and handouts from lecturers. Other materials such as questions for group work, cases, and tables/figures will also be included.

Students from other programmes are expected to have passed courses in epidemiology, biostatistics and environmental and occupational Health at BSc level equivalent to the courses "Introduktion til epidemiologi" (eng. Introduction to Epidemiology), "Introduktion til statistik" (eng. Introduction to Statistics), and "Miljøfaktorer, arbejdsmiljø og helbred" (eng. Environmental and Occupational Health) at the BSc in Public Health at University of Copenhagen.
Participants are also expected to be able to read and understand epidemiological, scientific papers.

A bachelor degree in Public Health or a similar education that includes courses within the topics described below in "Recommended Academic Qualifications".

Written
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
ECTS
10 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written examination, 4 hours under invigilation
Short answer, written sit-down exam at Peter Bangs Vej
Aid
All aids allowed

All standard electronic aids allowed, incl. USB key

 

Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
One internal examiner
Criteria for exam assessment

To achieve the maximum grade of 12, the student must be able to:

Knowledge

  • describe the occupational exposures that are covered by the course’s curriculum, how these exposures can be measured, and provide examples of the health outcomes that they are associated with
  • explain the core ideas behind the theoretical models of psychosocial work factors
  • explain the role of occupational exposures in relation to major public health challenges and to social inequalities in health
  • explain what groups at labor market that can be seen as particularly vulnerable to adverse occupational exposures
  • understand the historical and societal context of occupational health in Denmark

 

Skills

  • assess the exposure profile of a specific occupational group/job type
  • discuss  strengths and limitations of theoretical models of psychosocial work factors
  • evaluate methodological strengths and limitations in measurements of occupational exposures
  • evaluate the validity of scientific studies on occupational exposures
  • identify vulnerable groups at the labor market
  • suggest strategies for vocational rehabilitation among people
  • discuss the implications of occupational exposures in relation to public health in general and social inequalities in health specifically

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 20
  • Seminar
  • 20
  • Preparation
  • 131
  • Exam Preparation
  • 100
  • Exam
  • 4
  • English
  • 275