Background: Only few studies deal with the workload of physical therapists and the health consequences, although this occupational group is quite important for the health care system in many industrialized countries (e.g. ca. 136 000 people are currently employed as physical therapists in Germany). Therefore, the current state of knowledge of work-related diseases and disorders of physical therapists is insufficient. The aim of the «Physical Therapist Cohort» (PTC) study is to analyze the association between work-related exposures and diseases among physical therapists in Germany. This article describes the protocol of the baseline assessment of the PTC study. Methods/Design. A cross-sectional study will be conducted as baseline assessment and will include a representative random sample of approximately 300 physical therapists employed in Germany (exposure group), and a population-based comparison group (n = 300). The comparison group will comprise a sample of working aged (18-65 years) inhabitants of a German city. Variables of interest will be assessed using a questionnaire manual including questions regarding musculoskeletal, dermal, and infectious diseases and disorders as well as psychosocial exposures, diseases and disorders. In addition to subjective measures, a clinical examination will be used to objectify the questionnaire-based results (n = 50). Discussion. The study, which includes extensive data collection, provides a unique opportunity to study the prospective association of work-related exposures and associated complaints of physical therapists. Baseline results will give first clues with regard to whether and how prevalent main exposures of physiotherapeutic work and typical work areas of physical therapists are associated with the development of work-related diseases. Thereby, this baseline assessment provides the basis for further investigations to examine causal relationships in accordance with a longitudinal design. © 2013 Girbig et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
Girbig, M., Deckert, S., Kopkow, C., Latza, U., Dulon, M., Nienhaus, A., … Seidler, A. (2013). Work-related complaints and diseases of physical therapists - Protocol for the establishment of a “physical Therapist Cohort” (PTC) in Germany. Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology, 8(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/1745-6673-8-34