153746 Evidence-based strategy for integrating occupational ergonomics with workplace health promotion: The Center for the Promotion of Health in the New England Workplace (CPH-NEW)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007: 2:50 PM

Laura Punnett , Department of Work Environment, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell, MA
Martin G. Cherniack, MD , Ergonomic Technology Center, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, CT
Robert A. Henning, PhD, CPE , Department of Psychology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
Pouran D. Faghri, MD, MS, FACSM , Allied Health Sciences/Health Promotion, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
Lenore S. Azaroff, ScD , Department of Work Environment, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell, MA
Marian R. Flum, ScD , Department of Work Environment, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell, MA
CPH-NEW is a NIOSH-funded initiative with partners in private sector, labor, and two state health departments. The Center will evaluate models for integrating health promotion (HP) with workplace occupational ergonomic interventions, with a strong emphasis on worker involvement. Outcomes include musculoskeletal health (with an expanded definition), mental and cardiovascular health. Qualitative methods are directed to development of participatory groups in the workplace, in addition to process evaluation.

Work organization is a key mediator of workplace stressors as well as a potential source of constraints on health behaviors. Relevant features of the work environment, ranging from scheduling to supervisory-employee relations, can be barriers or enhancements to health behaviors. Effective HP programs should address organizational as well as individual behaviors.

Decision latitude is particularly important in this regard. Participatory selection, design and implementation of HP or ergonomics interventions instill a sense of empowerment and bolster program effectiveness. CPH-NEW will compare “top down” best practices and “bottom up” participatory interventions. One likely indicator is health self efficacy (HSE), associated with smoking cessation, improved exercise and diet, plus reduced disability in persons with musculoskeletal pain. Participatory workplace programs can be expected to enhance participants' HSE, increasing the duration of healthy behaviors.

Many traditional HP behavioral targets (exercise, diet, smoking, obesity) are also risk factors for musculoskeletal disorders such as low back pain. Limited empirical evidence shows interactions between these factors and occupational ergonomics exposures (heavy lifting, awkward postures, etc.). Successful HP programs might enhance the musculoskeletal benefits of ergonomic improvements at work.

Learning Objectives:
Refer to session abstract

Keywords: Occupational Health, Health Promotion

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No
Any institutionally-contracted trials related to this submission?

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.