Interview with Prof. DUTHEILMedical Researcher and Wittyfit Scientist

Professor Frédéric DUTHEIL is Head of Occupational Health at the Clermont-Ferrand University Hospital. He is also a researcher at the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and a scientist at WITTYFIT.

How did you meet the two founders?

Two factors helped lead to our meeting. First of all, my profession, I am a Professor of Occupational Health at the CHU of Clermont-Ferrand, there are very few specialists in this field in France. Also, a project I was working on. It was a software programme providing individual feedback to any person over 14 years of age on their state of health in its broadest definition: physical, mental and emotional well-being. A model conceived for all, with personalised advice, based on medical publications. My goal was to make the patient “a participant in their own health”, and thus to allow them to influence their life expectancy.

What attracted you to their project?

When Thomas and Samuel came to explain their project to me, I was immediately interested. One thing was clear. We were motivated by the same convictions and our projects were converging. I found the idea of addressing the professional world extremely relevant and innovative. We spend 1/3 of our time at work and yet “occupational health” is studied very little. The world of health seems to stop as you step through the doors of the company. In 2014, there was no QWL measurement tool in France: nothing to allow employees to self-assess their health at work and nothing at the company level.

How did you contribute to the development of the platform?

We were all aligned on the global approach, I brought the scientific aspect. The evaluation system uses the codes of medicine. The set of indicators, sub-indicators and questionnaires were designed to be able to assess the health at work of each person, i.e. the physical, mental and emotional well-being of employees. Starting from their perception to reconstruct the root causes, understanding in order to take action.

“We are working with WITTYFIT to make workplace health personalised, participatory, preventive and predictive.”

Pr. Frédéric Dutheil

What was the biggest difficulty on your side?

The research and development phase took more than two years. The time required for validation of the protocol with the “Independent Ethics Committee” in charge of research involving humans (criteria defined by article L 1123-7 of the Public Health Code). The protocol is published on the World Health Organization approved reference site:

How is this platform different from others?

We are able to scientifically demonstrate what we claim. This is what is called evidence-based medicine. WITTYFIT is the only QWL platform with a scientifically approved method for measuring perceptions. Beyond the assessment of job satisfaction and stress levels, the platform makes every employee fully involved in his or her professional development. You can’t make a lasting difference by asking someone once a year how they feel at work.

In addition, WITTYFIT allows you to generate a single-document psychosocial risk assessment in just a few clicks.

What sectors are you working on now?

I am very involved in the evolution of the WITTYFIT tool and the research that I conduct with the CNRS feeds into our approach. As an Occupational Health Research Professor, I am studying the relationship between the “work variable” and health. Very few publications exist in this area. Yet almost everyone works, and spends a great deal of their life at work.

For example, stress is known to be a mortality risk factor, but there is little scientific evidence that allows us to correlate the various variables between work and health. I have been working at the CNRS for four years now to establish the link between “physiological stress” (biological perception) and “psychosocial stress” (stress caused by a poor conception, organisation or management of work and an unfavourable socio-professional context). I have just signed up for another four years of research.

How do you see the future with WITTYFIT?

When I hear about QWL measurement tools based on AI, I am dubious. Research is progressing, but artificial intelligence applied to neuroscience is at an embryonic stage. “Machine learning” is a field of study of AI which is developing but which requires a lot of data over a period of several years to be reliable and to allow the creation of “predictive models”.

In the framework of WITTYFIT, we will integrate an “Industrial Agreement for Training Through Research” (CIFRE) doctoral student at the end of the year to study the links between psychosocial and economic factors in companies. The work will last three years and will include research at the CHU of Clermont-Ferrand and integration within the WITTYFIT team.

We are working with WITTYFIT to make workplace health personalised, participatory, preventive and predictive.