Finnish insurance sector funds research into treatment of occupational injuries and diseases – how does rehabilitation support asthma patients’ ability to work?

One of the studies funded by the insurance sector is researching the effects of vocational rehabilitation on the prognosis of patients suffering from occupational asthma. Photo: Shutterstock
  • Finance Finland (FFI), the Finnish Motor Insurers’ Centre (LVK) and the Finnish Workers’ Compensation Center have made a donation to the University of Helsinki’s Faculty of Medicine.
  • The donations are granted to effectiveness studies that focus especially on developing the treatment and rehabilitation of occupational injuries and diseases and on improving work ability.
  • The insurance sector funds this research for €300,000 per year for five years. The first grants were awarded in 2021.
  • One of the grantees is Hille Suojalehto, who is researching the work ability and careers of patients with occupational asthma. Suojalehto’s study also investigates the effect of vocational rehabilitation on the prognosis of occupational asthma.

“The study is aimed at investigating, for example, how vocational rehabilitation affects the work ability and prognosis of a patient suffering from occupational asthma. The study subjects include both patients who have received vocational rehabilitation and patients who have not, and these two groups are compared”, explains study leader Hille Suojalehto, chief physician at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.

The study begins this spring and lasts for two and a half years. First the study subjects are selected and their background information is compiled, after which the interviews are conducted and the responses analysed. The research findings can be used to target rehabilitation and support at those patients for whom they are best suited and appropriate.

“Because the Finnish system is unique, studies conducted abroad will not yield accurate data on the effectiveness of different rehabilitation and support measures. It is therefore important to study Finnish patients who have received care based on the Finnish system”, Suojalehto says.

Five-year funding

The donating parties support effectiveness research with €300,000 per year for a period of five years. The funding started in 2021.

The insurance sector compensates for a large volume of medical treatment costs. In 2021, for example, non-life insurers reimbursed health care costs for a total of about €480 million.

“It is in the interests of the insurance sector to work together with the public sector and other actors to promote effective, appropriately targeted medical treatment. Avoiding unnecessary treatment and focusing the limited resources on effective forms of treatment will not only benefit patients but the society too”, comments Hannu Ijäs, director of legislation at Finance Finland.

The donations funded by the insurance sector were granted to four studies that focus especially on developing the treatment and rehabilitation of occupational injuries and diseases and on improving work ability. Pragmatism and long-terms basis were held as additional criteria for the projects to be funded.

The grantees were selected by the dean of the Faculty of Medicine. The selection was based on a proposal made by a faculty-appointed working committee.

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