Document Type : Original Article
Centre of Maritime Health and Society, School of Health Sciences, University of Southern Denmark, Esbjerg, Denmark
Hippokration Hospital Athens, Greece & Frederick University, Nicosia, Cyprus
Introduction: Medical practitioners provide pre-employment examinations and periodic health examinations to seafarers, fishermen, offshore employees, and maritime students to ensure that they are fit for work. So far, very little is known about doctors’ perceptions of their professional training needs and expectations. The objective of this study was to gain insight on (a) the breadth of services offered, (b) follow-up practices, and (c) perceived training needs on aspects of maritime medicine.
Methods: All maritime doctors (110) recognized by the Danish Maritime Authority (DMA) and 100 general practitioners (GPs) were invited to participate. A questionnaire was sent out electronically to gather information on the demographics, breadth of services, follow-up practices, and perceived training needs of the participants. Descriptive statistics described the characteristics of the 2 groups.
Results: The training priorities of maritime doctors were rules and regulations (68.7%) followed by working conditions and health risks aboard ship (62.8%). The self-rated training priorities of the GPs were working conditions and health risks aboard ship (44.1%), occupational disease diagnostics, prevention, and follow-up (41.1%), and health and safety at work (38.2%).
Conclusion: Members of both medical disciplines were in favor of flexible and accredited training. More specifically, GPs considered a course in occupational risks, diseases, and follow up targeting high-risk professions very important. Maritime doctors suggested the establishment of a website as a one-stop shop for relevant guidelines and information. The small size of the GPs sample prevented a more in-depth gap analysis; however, the results could be used to help the respective authorities establish relevant training programs.