Master of Clinical Science
Terry, Amanda L.
Long-haul truck drivers in North America experience greater health risks than people employed in other occupations. The magnitude of their health risks is directly associated with crash risk which has implications for public road safety. The health experiences of long-haul truck drivers residing in Ontario, Canada and their relationship with their primary care provider were explored using a phenomenological approach. Themes of perseverance, isolation, dehumanization and living in a hidden, separate world emerged from the analysis. Focus groups were held where family physicians and nurse practitioners were asked for their responses to these findings and for their experiences caring for long-haul truck driver patients. Integration of these two studies revealed barriers to receiving and providing primary care including the fitness to drive examination and the long-haul truck driver context. Continuous exposure to an unhealthy work environment and inadequate access to primary care suggests long-haul truck drivers are a vulnerable population.
Summary for Lay Audience
Long-haul truck drivers have a risky job. They get injured and develop more health problems like diabetes and heart attacks than people who have other jobs. They also do not seem to live as long as other people. Less healthy truck drivers are more likely to be involved in crashes.
There are two studies in this thesis. In the first study, long-haul truck drivers in Ontario were interviewed and asked what makes them healthy or unhealthy. They were also asked about their interactions with family doctors or nurse practitioners (also known as primary care providers). The truck drivers described having a lot of stress such as having to be away from loved ones and feeling that people disrespect them and do not appreciate what they have to go through to get loads delivered. The long-haul truck drivers said it was difficult for them to ask their primary care provider for help, because it might make their provider think that they are too unhealthy to drive a truck safely. In the second study, primary care providers were interviewed in groups and asked for their reactions to what the long-haul truck drivers said in Study 1. Most of the primary care providers did not realize the stress truck drivers were under and how much their workplace makes them unhealthy. They also talked about how difficult it is to help long-haul truck drivers compared to other patients because truck drivers don’t come in that often and don’t always follow through on needed tests and treatments. The primary care providers understood that long-haul truck drivers do not tell them their problems because they are afraid of failing the truck driver medical exam.
From both studies, recommendations would be for family doctors and nurse practitioners to learn more about what truck drivers have to deal with at work because it probably explains why they are not as healthy as other people. Also, primary care providers should not have to do the medical exams for truck drivers anymore. If a separate medical provider did the driver exam, truck drivers would be able to talk to their doctor or nurse practitioner more openly and get the help they need.
Johnson, Jennifer K., "The Health Experiences of Long-haul Truck Drivers and their Relationship with their Primary Care Provider" (2020). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 6831.