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Results of a Pilot Intervention to Improve Health and Safety for Health Care Workers

Caspi, Caitlin Eicher ScD; Dennerlein, Jack T. PhD; Kenwood, Christopher MS; Stoddard, Anne M. ScD; Hopcia, Karen ScD, NP; Hashimoto, Dean MD; Sorensen, Glorian PhD, MPH

Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine: December 2013 - Volume 55 - Issue 12 - p 1449–1455
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3182a7e65a
Original Articles

Objective: To test the feasibility of a multicomponent pilot intervention to improve worker safety and wellness in two Boston hospitals.

Methods: A 3-month intervention was conducted on seven hospital units. Pre- (374 workers) and postsurveys (303 workers) assessed changes in safety/ergonomic behaviors and practices, and social support. Wellness outcomes included self-reported pain/aching in specific body areas (musculoskeletal disorders or MSDs) and physical activity (PA).

Results: Pain was reported frequently (81%), and PA averaged 4 hours per week. There was a postintervention increase in safe patient handling (P < 0.0001), safety practices (P = 0.0004), ergonomics (P = 0.009), and supervisor support (P = 0.01), but no changes in MSDs or PA.

Conclusions: Safe patient handling, ergonomics, and safety practices are good targets for worker safety and wellness interventions; longer intervention periods may reduce the risk of MSDs.

From the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health (Dr Caspi), University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minn; Department of Physical Therapy (Dr Dennerlein), Northeastern University, Boston, Mass; New England Research Institutes (Mr Kenwood and Dr Stoddard), Watertown, Mass; College of Nursing (Dr Hopcia), University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Ill; Department of Occupational Heath (Dr Hashimoto), Partner's HealthCare, Inc, Boston, Mass; Department of Society, Human Development and Health (Dr Sorensen), Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Mass; and Center for Community-Based Research (Dr Sorensen), Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Mass.

Address correspondence to: Caitlin Eicher Caspi, ScD, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, University of Minnesota, 717 Delaware St. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (cecaspi@umn.edu).

This research was supported by a grant from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (U10 OH008861). Funding support for the lead author (Dr Caspi) was also provided through the National Cancer Institute by the Harvard Education Program in Cancer Prevention and Control (R25CA057711) and by the Cancer-Related Health Disparities Education and Career Development Program (R25CA163184). Funding agencies played no role in this study and the contents of this article are solely the responsibility of the authors. The authors declare no conflicts of interests.

Copyright © 2013 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine