Purpose: Occupational safety and health (OSH) professionals are often the point of contact for health and safety policies derived in the workplace, and the handling of incidents in their aftermath. As chronic pain affects 20% of people, many pain-awareness campaigns and educational activities target healthcare professionals. However, initiatives directed toward OSH professionals are also important to aid in prevention and rehabilitation efforts. The objective of this study was to describe knowledge and attitudes of OSH students with regard to chronic pain.
Methods: A web-based cross-sectional study was conducted amongst a convenience sample of 88 students enrolled in the distance learning OSH undergraduate certificate program at the Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue (Quebec, Canada).
Results: Although 30% of students were already employed within OSH or human resources and 40% reported intervening in cases involving chronic pain in their line of work, 56% of respondents had received no training on chronic pain and its treatment in the past five years. Only 14% chose to take the optional 45 hr course dedicated to pain within the program. OSH students also exhibited poorer knowledge and more negative attitudes toward people suffering from chronic pain when compared to other groups assessed in the province of Quebec, including healthcare professionals, chronic pain patients, and people not suffering from chronic pain ( p≤0.0002). Half of the respondents (51.9%) were not aware that chronic pain affects 1 in 5 adults.
Conclusion: Our study demonstrates a need for pain education within OSH training programs and through continuing education.