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Social context of occupational health disparities for healthcare workers: Findings of the PHASE in Healthcare research project

Craig Slatin, ScD, MPH, Department of Community Health and Sustainability, University of Massachusetts Lowell, 3 Solomont Way, Weed Hall, Lowell, MA 01854, 978-934-3291, craig_slatin@uml.edu

The healthcare industry is a major sector of the U.S. economy. Its workforce encompasses a wide-range of occupations, educational levels, and incomes. Healthcare worker rates of acute injuries, musculoskeletal disorders, and other work-related adverse health outcomes have rapidly increased over the past two decades. This corresponds with a period of neoliberal restructuring (adjustments to establish market-based strategies, weaken public control of services, and dismantle labor unions and other forms of workers' power) of the healthcare sector resulting in mergers, downsizing, reorganizing of professional patient care delivery, and the resultant impacts on work life quality and patient safety. Our project, Promoting Healthy and Safe Employment (PHASE) in Healthcare, conducted interdisciplinary research in community hospitals and nursing homes, and with nurses. This panel presents findings from mostly qualitative case study research to explore the political, social, and economic contexts for healthcare workplace health and safety and employee diversity support – two aspects of work we proposed would help us to understand the contexts of occupational injury disparities. Panelists will present findings regarding violence and assaults, reporting of injuries and health and safety hazards, experiences with the workers' compensation program, the relationships between potential for adverse occupational health outcomes and direct patient care, and how the restructuring of healthcare has shaped facility decisions that either prevent or promote the potential for disparate workplace health and safety experiences. We will also discuss findings regarding the socioeconomic status (SES) and working conditions of study respondents, indicating that job strain was a strong factor against study participation.

Learning Objectives: At the end of the presentations, the participant will be able to

Keywords: Health Care Workers, Occupational Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No

Social Context of Occupational Health Disparities for Healthcare Workers: Findings of the PHASE in Healthcare Research Project

The 134th Annual Meeting & Exposition (November 4-8, 2006) of APHA