ObjectivesMeta-analyses are considered generally as the highest level of evidence, but concerns have been voiced about their massive, low-quality production. This paper aimed to evaluate the landscape of meta-analyses in the field of occupational and environmental health and medicine.MethodsUsing relevant search terms, all meta-analyses were searched for, but those published in 2015 were assessed for their origin, whether they included randomised trials and individual-level data and whether they had authors from the industry or consultancy firms.ResultsPubMed searches (last update February 2017) identified 1251 eligible meta-analyses in this field. There was a rapid increase over time (n=16 published in 1995 vs n=163 published in 2015). Of the 163 eligible meta-analyses published in 2015, 49 were from China, followed at a distance by the USA (n=19). Only 16 considered randomised (intervention) trials and 13 included individual-level data. Only 1 of the 150 meta-analyses had industry authors and none had consultancy firm authors. As an example of conflicting findings, 12 overlapping meta-analyses addressed mobile phones and brain cancer risk and they differed substantially in number of studies included, eligibility criteria and conclusions.ConclusionsThere has been a major increase in the publication of meta-analyses in occupational and environmental health over time, with the majority of these studies focusing on observational data, while a commendable fraction used individual-level data. Authorship is still limited largely to academic and non-profit authors. With massive production of meta-analyses, redundancy needs to be anticipated and efforts should be made to safeguard quality and protect from bias.
There is high demand in environmental health for adoption of a structured process that evaluates and integrates evidence while making decisions and recommendations transparent. The Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) framework holds promise to address this demand. For over a decade, GRADE has been applied successfully to areas of clinical medicine, public health, and health policy, but experience with GRADE in environmental" and occupationathealth is just beginning. Environmental and occupational health questions focus on understanding whether an exposure is a potential health hazard or risk, assessing the exposure to understand the extent and magnitude of risk, and exploring interventions to mitigate exposure or risk. Although GRADE offers many advantages, including its flexibility and methodological rigor, there are features of the different sources of evidence used in environmental and occupational health that will require further consideration to assess the need for method refinement. An issue that requires particular attention is the evaluation and integration of evidence from human, animal, in vitro, and in silico (computer modeling) studies when determining whether an environmental factor represents a potential health hazard or risk. Assessment of the hazard of exposures can produce analyses for use in the GRADE evidence-to-decision (EtD) framework to inform risk-management decisions about removing harmful exposures or mitigating risks. The EtD framework allows for grading the strength of the recommendations based on judgments of the certainty in the evidence (also known as quality of the evidence), as well as other factors that inform recommendations such as social values and preferences, resource implications, and benefits. GRADE represents an untapped opportunity for environmental and occupational health to make evidence-based recommendations in a systematic and transparent manner. The objectives of this article are to provide an overview of GRADE, discuss GRADE's applicability to environmental health, and identify priority areas for method assessment and development. (C) 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved
With this issue, the Archives of Environmental & Occupational Health celebrates 100 years of continuous publication since its foundation as the Journal of Industrial Hygiene in 1919. During its first century, the Archives established an extraordinary legacy in the development of no less than three fields of research and practice: (1) occupational medicine, (2) industrial hygiene, and (3) air pollution studies and regulation. Its contribution to American environmental protection standards in air quality was particularly important, as the journal served as a major outlet for crucial air pollution research during the early years of the new United States Environmental Protection Agency. Its pages also chart the development of occupational health as an independent field, as well as the later emergence of modern environmental health as a related co-discipline. As the Archives moves into its second century of continuous publication, the journal will continue shaping the fields of environmental and occupational health; building on the solid foundation of evidence-based research from which humankind continues to benefit.
Background: Mexico has a great diversity and richness of natural resources, but evaluations of the quality of life of Mexicans show the deep inequalities and the gap between rich and poor. While 5% of families concentrate 58% of the wealth, the health spending in environment and health is 0.2 and 2.7 of the GDP respectively. This has repercussions both on the gradual deterioration of the environment and on the insufficient health and social security coverage of the working population. Objective: To describe the current situation of occupational and environmental health in Mexico. Methods: A bibliographic review was performed on the socioeconomic, demographic, environmental, legal and health status of the Economically Active Population (EAP). Findings: There is a constant deterioration of terrestrial and marine ecosystems, accompanied by an increase in environmental pollution in large cities. The unemployment rate of the EAP has decreased in one year to 3.4%, but the informal labor rate reached 57.3%, which translates into population without social security. Compliance with legislation for the protection of workers' health is insufficient. The recent amendments to the law have meant a setback in these respects. The reported information on accidents and occupational diseases corresponds to only 34% of workers. There has been a decrease in the rate of work accidents in the last six years, but an increase in diseases and permanent disabilities. During 2016, the first cause of occupational illness was hearing loss, but the profile was dominated by musculoskeletal diseases, which together reached 36.5%. Conclusions: To improve the occupational and environmental health situation, it is necessary to implement general and particular measures against inequalities, increase the budget in health and environment, enforce legislation and expand social security coverage to the population. These measures should be part of public policies as well as actions of academics and researchers.