The ability to assess the exposure of individuals or groups is a critical element in any effective health surveillance system, as it provides the opportunity to identify the causes of ill health, the levels of exposure resulting in ill health and, through controlling exposures, to protect the health of Service personnel. As part of a wider programme to enhance the health surveillance capabilities of the Defence Medical Services, a project was undertaken to assess the collection and retention of data for exposure assessment in the United Kingdom’s Armed Forces. The systems investigated include those for health, safety and environment policy, personnel and pay, medical records, environmental and occupational monitoring and historical records. It was found that the use of many systems for exposure assessment would be hampered by inconsistencies in the data collected, poor accessibility and linkage, and variability in the retention of the data. This paper highlights some of the problems that limit the usefulness of the record systems for exposure assessment and summarizes the principal recommendations made for enhancing the systems to better facilitate health surveillance.
- Exposure data
- exposure assessment
- health surveillance
- occupational health
- Ministry of Defence
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