204870 Work organizational features associated with health behaviors among nursing home personnel

Monday, November 9, 2009: 3:10 PM

Laura Punnett, ScD , Department of Work Environment, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell, MA
Helena Miranda, MD, DrMedSc , Centre of Expertise for Health and Work Ability, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland
Rebecca Gore, PhD , Department of Work Environment, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell, MA
Jon Boyer, ScD , Department of Work Environment, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell, MA
Obesity, cigarette smoking, and physical inactivity represent important and preventable health risks. However, many worksite health promotion programs to address them have limited scope and effectiveness; a particular concern is failure to engage lower-status workers, who are often at high risk. We report on the baseline data from a study of combined health promotion/occupational health programs in the long-term care (nursing home) sector. A standardized, self-administered questionnaire was distributed in 12 long-term care centers located in Maryland and New England to clinical employees, mostly nursing aides and nurses (92% women, 65% African-American, mean age 42 years, seniority 11 years). These workers reported exposure to psychological demands (88% of respondents), awkward postures (65%), poor safety climate (60%), lifting heavy loads (57%) and imbalance in work-family life (43%). The prevalences of obesity, physical inactivity and current smoking were 35%, 23% and 24%. Among these workers, the risk of “personal” health risks increased linearly with the number of job exposures such as low decision latitude, low co-worker support, lifting heavy loads, night work, and recent physical assault at work. For obesity, the odds ratios were 3+ for 2 or more exposures, up to 4.2 for workers with 4 or 5 exposures. Current smoking was more than 4 times more frequent for workers with 4 or 5 of similar job features. The risk of being physically inactive was 2.5 for multiple exposures. Worksite health promotion programs should take into account the effect of working conditions on the health and health behaviors of individual employees.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the association between physical and psychosocial job exposures and health behavior among clinical staff in the long term healthcare sector. 2. Explain why workplace health promotion program design and evaluation should address working conditions.

Keywords: Workplace Stressors, Health Behavior

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the Co-Director and Principal Investigator of the CPH-NEW research center that is coordinating this 90-minute session. I am a Professor of Work Environment with expertise in ergonomics, musculoskeletal disorders, epidemiology and intervention research. A list of research publications and appointments can be found on our department website-- http://www.uml.edu/college/SHE/WE/Faculty/Laura_Punnett.html
Any relevant financial relationships? No

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.