Reported vague symptoms and at-risk status: the case of polyvinyl chloride workers in Louisville.
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Reported vague symptoms and at-risk status: the case of polyvinyl chloride workers in Louisville.

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    • Alternative Title:
      Public Health Rep
    • Description:
      This study concerns the frequency of visits to the dispensary by workers with vague symptoms of physical illness at a polyvinyl chloride plant in Louisville, KY, where an outbreak of hepatic angiosarcoma occurred. The illness behavior of three cohorts of workers at three levels of risk--workers removed from the chemical plant to a pallet plant (PP) because their screening results indicated liver abnormalities; workers who had some positive test results (TP); and workers whose test results were negative (TN)--was studied before (time 1) and after (time 2) the angiosarcoma crisis. It was predicted that, during time 2, the groups' visits to the dispensary would increase in relation to their levels of risk (PP greater than TP greater than TN). Although there was an overall increase in the percentage of visits because of vague symptoms during time 2, the only cohort with different behavior was the group of TP workers: they reduced their use of the dispensary. These results are similar to those in a previous study in which all symptoms of illness were included. It is speculated that social and individual factors, as well as the labeling phenomenon, explain the results. Health care providers are encouraged to follow up with workers at risk who seem to avoid monitoring their health.
    • Source:
      Public Health Rep. 102(4):438-444
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