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Outreach to Low-Wage and Precarious Workers

Concept Mapping for Public Health Officers

Velonis, Alisa, PhD, MPH; Forst, Linda, MD, MPH

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: November 2018 - Volume 60 - Issue 11 - p e610–e617
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001462

Objective: To explore concept mapping (CM) as a participatory methodology that can be used by public health officials to strategize approaches to reducing health inequities among low wage workers and workers with unstable employment.

Methods: In a workshop of 68 occupational health officers, mainly from government agencies, CM was demonstrated through gathering and prioritizing ideas for reaching underserved, at-risk working populations.

Results: Prior to the workshop, occupational health officers generated 99 brainstormed ideas on how to reach underserved workers. These were reduced to 39 unique items, which workshop participants then sorted into themes and prioritized based on perceived effectiveness and feasibility. Twelve specific approaches covering enhanced surveillance methods, occupational safety and health (OSH) training, and partnering with employers, other agencies, and community groups were considered most actionable by occupational/public health officers to address the health of low-wage, and precarious workers. In a follow-up session 1 year later, a subset of participants discussed the findings.

Conclusion: Concept mapping can be used to elucidate actionable approaches by government agencies to better address occupational health inequities experienced by low wage and precarious workers.

Division of Community Health Sciences (Dr Velonis); Division of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences (Dr Forst), University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health, Chicago, Illinois.

Address correspondence to: Linda Forst, MD, MPH, Division of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health, 1603 W. Taylor Street, Room 1149, Chicago, IL 60612 (

This work was supported, in part, by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health U60OH10905. NIOSH had no role in design or execution of this work. There are no potential or actual competing interests. The Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists supported travel to the workshop; there was no compensation for time or research.

Conflicts of Interest: None declared.

Copyright © 2018 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine