Telephone consultation as a sustainable method of service delivery in occupational medicine: results of a qualitative study


  • Abigail O'Reilly HSE Ireland
  • Conor Loftus Health Service Executive Ireland
  • Hemal Thakore Health Service Executive Ireland


occupational medicine, telemedicine, telephone consultation, qualitative


Since the pandemic, telephone consultation is still widely used in Occupational medicine practice, but with a seemingly huge variety depending on the different occupational medicine departments and companies. Telephone consultation could be considered a sustainable alternative to face-to-face consultation in the long term. The aim of this research project was to start an evidence base for the opinions of Occupational Health Physicians (OHPs) regarding telephone consultation. This study also sought to gather further information on the perceived benefits and limitations of telephone consultation as per its current users (OHPs) and identify ways to improve the practice of telephone consultation.

This research project involved interviewing Occupational Health Physicians and analysing the data collected (using thematic analysis) so that the utility of telephone consultation as a means of consultation could be reviewed [12-16]. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with eighteen specialist occupational medicine physicians in Ireland. Data was initially coded and then organised into themes.

The main findings from this research project identified five themes: Quality of Care, Professional Standards, Barriers to Telephone Consultation, Optimal Use of telephone Consultation, and Potential Improvements and Useful Change for Telephone Consultation. Some of these themes have previously been identified in research from other medical specialities.

Upon consideration of the themes and subthemes identified in this study, telephone consultation could be used by Occupational Health Physicians as an adjunct to face-to-face consultations and in some cases as a direct alternative. Further research into this area with pilot studies or comparative trials will provide definitive answers as to the role of telephone consultation in occupational medicine into the future. Telephone consultation would appear to be a sustainable method of service delivery in occupational medicine. Clinical governance for telephone consultation in Ireland is currently lacking with no clinical guidance available specific for occupational medicine. If telephone consultation is to be considered a sustainable method of service delivery in Occupational medicine, a solid foundation of clinical guidance and governance will be required.


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How to Cite

O’Reilly, A., Loftus, C., & Thakore, H. (2024). Telephone consultation as a sustainable method of service delivery in occupational medicine: results of a qualitative study. Finnish Journal of EHealth and EWelfare, 16(1), 35–48.