Purpose: To examine current practices of occupational health professionals in assessing significant others’ cognitions and behavioral responses that may influence work outcomes of workers with a chronic disease.
Methods: A survey study among occupational health professionals, focusing on the assessment of illness perceptions, work-related beliefs and expectations, and behavioral responses of significant others of workers with a chronic disease. We performed linear regression analyses to investigate which factors are related to occupational health professionals’ assessment practices. We used thematic analysis to analyze qualitative data on occupational health professionals’ reasons to assess or overlook significant others’ cognitions and behavioral responses.
Results: Our study sample included 192 occupational health professionals. Most seldom asked about significant others’ cognitions and behavioral responses. Organizational norms and occupational health professionals’ self-efficacy were related to reported assessment practices. Reasons to assess significant others’ cognitions and behavioral responses included recognizing their influence on work participation, and occurrence of stagnation. However, occupational health professionals indicated some doubt whether such assessment would always contribute to better care.
Conclusions: It is not common practice for occupational health professionals to assess significant others’ cognitions and behavioral responses, although they recognize the influence of these factors on work outcomes. More research is needed as to how occupational health professionals can best address the role of significant others, and apply these new insights in their daily practice.