SENSOR is a system for linking physicians who recognize occupational disease cases to public health officials who can direct intervention at specific workplaces and alert other physicians to settings where occupational disease may be occurring in their state. Certain features of occupational asthma may make it suitable for surveillance under the SENSOR model. Experience from a limited number of states indicates that many physicians are willing to report occupational asthma cases to state health officials and that case reports can be used to identify workplaces with remediable health hazards.
From early experience, SENSOR shows promise as an approach to providing occupational asthma surveillance and identifying opportunities for primary and secondary prevention. More widespread and sustained application of the SENSOR method requires that certain issues be addressed. Confirmation and investigation of occupational asthma cases are labor-intensive and demand certain types of expertise. As with notifiable communicable diseases, underreporting is a persistent problem. To encourage reporting, sufficient resources must be devoted to assure timely, quality followup of patients and to demonstrate the utility of reporting to providers. Further efforts are needed to increase physician recognition of occupational disease. These efforts should include dissemination of reporting criteria, surveillance data, and other educational material to providers through the SENSOR surveillance system. [See Table 4 in Source Pdf].