Analysis of participation in the federally mandated coal workers' health surveillance program

Mary Elizabeth Nickolaus, The University of Texas School of Public Health


The Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969 required that periodic chest radiographs be offered to underground coal miners to protect the miners from the development of Coal Workers' Pneumoconiosis (CWP) and progression of the disease to progressive massive fibrosis (PMF). These examinations are administered by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) through the Coal Workers' Health Surveillance Program (CWHSP). The mine operator is required to provide each miner with the opportunity to have the chest radiograph at no cost to the miner. Three rounds of examinations have been conducted since 1969 and the fourth is underway. The decrease in participation over rounds is of great concern if the incidence and progression of CWP are to be understood and controlled. This study developed rates of participation for each of 558 West Virginia underground coal mines who submitted or had NIOSH assigned plans for making chest radiographs available during the third round, July 1978 through December 1980. These rates were analyzed in relation to desired levels of participation and to reinforcing, predisposing and enabling factors presumed to affect rates of participation in disease prevention and surveillance programs. Two reinforcing factors, size of mine and inclusion of the mine in the National Coal Study (NCS) epidemiology research program, and the enabling factor, use of an on-site radiograph facility, demonstrated highly significant relationships to participation rates. The major findings of the study were: (1) Participation in the CWHSP is even lower than previously estimated; (2) CWHSP program evaluation is not systematic and program data base is not complete and comprehensive; and (3) NIOSH program policy is not clear and administration of the CWHSP is fragmented and lacks adequate fiscal and personnel resources.

Subject Area

Public health

Recommended Citation

Nickolaus, Mary Elizabeth, "Analysis of participation in the federally mandated coal workers' health surveillance program" (1987). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI8809928.