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A scientific and psychosocial environmental investigation tool: the Meeting, Understanding, Surveillance, Toxicology, Evaluation and Reporting (MUSTER) model
  1. Jackie Hyland1,
  2. Peter Donnelly2
  1. 1Department of Public Health, Cameron House, Cameron Bridge, Leven, Fife, UK
  2. 2Medical and Biological Sciences Building, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, Fife, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jackie Hyland, Department of Public Health, Cameron House, Cameron Bridge, Leven, Fife KY8 5RG, UK; jackie.hyland{at}


Background Although there is a wealth of information on hazards in the environment and robust systems for measuring environmental pollutants, there is limited guidance for practitioners in any field of health which addresses the psychosocial element of environmental investigations. Investigating environmental concerns is, however, necessary. It is possible that health may be affected by a previously unknown contaminate or may potentially be affected if action is not taken.

Methods To address this, a model for the integration of scientific and psychosocial considerations into a systematic, complainant centred approach for practitioners undertaking environmental investigations has been developed for use by public health professionals, environmental health officers, occupational health professionals, and general practitioners, among others. The process involves Meeting and interviewing individual complainants, Understanding individual and local concerns, reviewing Surveillance and Toxicological data, Evaluating findings, and Reporting on findings—the MUSTER model.

Results The MUSTER model proposes a method of investigation at an individual level which addresses physical, and psychosocial concerns. It is presented with real life case studies which demonstrate the importance of addressing each aspect. The model incorporates what is already known about health and environmental investigations but presents this in an easy-to-remember mnemonic. While the model has been derived from public health investigations its application is equally suited for any practitioner undertaking a health related environmental investigation.

Conclusions The MUSTER model should be disseminated widely so that there is a robust, evidence based and consistent approach to environmental investigations which satisfies complainants, enhances practitioner knowledge base, and improves communication.

  • Protocols and guidelines
  • risk management
  • public health
  • toxicology

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.