The Implementation of Preventive Health Measures in Smalland Medium-Sized Enterprises—A Combined Quantitative/Qualitative Study of Its Determinants from the Perspective of Enterprise Representatives

Friederike E. Benning, Sandra H. van Oostrom, Femke van Nassau, Rosanne Schaap, Johannes R. Anema, Karin I. Proper*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The workplace is an ideal environment for promoting workers’ health. Nevertheless, preventive health measures are insufficiently implemented, especially in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with up to 250 employees. The aim of this study was to investigate determinants for the implementation of measures to prevent musculoskeletal and mental health disorders from the perspective of enterprise representatives in Dutch SMEs. An online survey was completed by 79 SME representatives (e.g., owners, HR professionals and occupational health and safety officers) in the cleaning, care, construction and transport sectors. In addition, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 18 enterprise representatives. The interview transcripts were analyzed using an inductive approach. Survey data showed that the focus of prevention efforts by SMEs is on improving working conditions and complying with legally required occupational health requirements, while lifestyle measures are rarely implemented. The determinants of implementation according to enterprise representatives were associated with 10 distinct themes. These were (1) available resources (both finances and staff), (2) complexity of implementation of measures, (3) awareness, (4) knowledge and expertise, (5) availability of time, (6) employer and worker commitment, (7) workers’ openness for measures, (8) communication, (9) workers’ trust and autonomy and (10) integration in organizational policy. These findings can serve as a support for developing strategies for implementing preventive health measures in SMEs.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3904
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2022

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