• Vol. 37 No. 2, 158–161
  • 15 February 2008

Bridging the Gap between Occupational Medicine and Family Medicine



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Family medicine and occupational medicine share close similarities in their focus on disease prevention and health promotion. The opportunities for mutual learning and collaboration in patient care abound, with far-reaching implications on the standard of patient care that can be offered. Unfortunately, a gap exists between family medicine and occupational medicine in day-to-day practice as well as in continuing medical education. It is important that we actively seek to bridge this gap. The workforce constitutes a significant part of the population and thus the patient load of a typical primary healthcare practice. Moreover, with an ageing population and rising retirement age, we can expect that there will be an increasing number of health issues to be addressed among older working people. Both occupational and non-occupational factors are important in determining an individual’s health. Thus, family physicians need to adequately understand occupational medicine and vice versa.

A significant similarity between family medicine and occupational medicine (OM) is the focus on disease prevention and health promotion. Family medicine aims for primary prevention through health education and personalised care of the family unit.

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