Vol. 5, Issue 2 (2019)
Seafarers’ health problems, emergencies, diseases and risk factors. A systematic review of the literature
Author(s): Drylli Aikaterini, Papanikolaou Vasileios, Chrysovergis Aris, Zerva Kanella, Kikidis Dimitris, Kyrodimos Efthymios
Abstract: Background/Aim: Currently, over 1.5 million seafarers, are employed in the global commercial fleet, which comprises of more than 50,000 ships. Traditionally, life at sea has been known to be of low quality and often complicated by various health issues. Despite the considerable number of seamen and the severity of their health issues, to date, no systematic overview of the relevant literature has been performed. Therefore, the aim of this paper is to perform a review of studies referring to health problems, emergencies, diseases and risk factors of seafarers. Methods: A systematic review of peer-reviewed articles from January 1, 2012, to April 15, 2018 was performed. Included databases were: PubMed, Science Direct, Scopus, Cochrane Library and Google Scholar. Two independent researchers performed the study. From the 229 articles initially identified, 25 were selected, based on the inclusion criteria. Results: The majority of studies were descriptive. The main health issues noted were: metabolic syndrome, obesity, cardiovascular/coronary heart disease, fatigue and stress, accidents and injuries. A high risk of bias was estimated due to the small sample size, study population selection, low response rate to questionnaires, lack of medical history and demographic data, and occasionally insufficient information regarding diagnosis or treatment. Conclusion: Unhealthy lifestyle and work-related diseases are the main difficulties of seamen. However, despite the number of available studies, results are limited by small size, data collection, and sample selection. Therefore, more robust evidence is needed, in order to accurately identify health related issues and the means of improving occupational conditions among seafarers.