The attitude of 126 occupational physicians to the employment problems of patients with intestinal stomas were assessed by a postal questionnaire. Heavy work and work in hot places were commonly (65 and 49 per cent of respondents respectively) considered ‘unsuitable’. Work as a food handler, handling toxic chemicals and driving duties was thought to be ‘unsuitable’ by 35, 14 and 10 per cent of respondents respectively and actually forbidden by a few physicians. Risk of spread of infection was perceived to be greater than normal for someone with a stoma by 28 per cent of respondents. This attitude was significantly more common (p<0·05 Chi square) among the associate members compared to full members of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine. Attitudes to people with either an ileostomy or a colostomy were similar. Most respondents (87 per cent) expected more sickness absences than normal for people with inflammatory bowel disease without a stoma but half appreciated that the creation of a stoma would result in normal amounts of sickness absence. The Occupational Physicians' views of which jobs within their industry were unsuitable for stoma patients were inconsistent. In practice most tasks can be performed normally by someone with a stoma so that each case should be assessed on an individual basis. There is a need for greater understanding and awareness by doctors of the good employment potential of people with intestinal stomas. The reasons for present attitudes are reviewed and new guidelines suggested.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health