246599 Healthy workplaces: Are employers offering coordinated health promotion and occupational health programs in Massachusetts?

Monday, October 31, 2011: 8:50 AM

Patricia Tremblay, MS , Work Environment, University of MA Lowell, Lowell, MA
Suzanne Nobrega, MS , Department of Work Environment, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell, MA
Letitia Davis, ScD , Occupational Health Surveillance Program, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Boston, MA
Elizabeth Erck, MS , Wellness and Prevention, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Boston, MA
Laura Punnett, ScD , Department of Work Environment, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell, MA
Advances in health promotion research have demonstrated the importance of addressing the underlying social and environmental factors that can negatively influence individuals' health behaviors. Working conditions are an important source of physical hazards (e.g., noise, heavy lifting) and psychosocial stressors (e.g., harassment, high demands coupled with low control) that are well-known to increase the risk of conditions such as cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal disorders, and depression. Occupational health and safety programs (OHS), which help to assure safe working conditions, are rarely carried out in coordination with workplace health promotion (WHP) programs, despite the potential effectiveness for integrated programs to support changes in health behaviors, reduce risk and prevalence of chronic diseases, and realize cost and productivity savings. We analyzed results from a 2008 survey of Massachusetts employers to assess the extent to which employers offer worksite health promotion (WHP) and occupational health and safety (OHS) programs, and whether there was any relationship between the two domains. For the 890 responding worksites, OHS scores were higher (mean=48%, SD=24) than WHP overall score (mean=20%, SD = 12). Correlation between the two scores was 0.366. Coordination of WHP and OHS activities was reported by roughly one-fourth of worksites. OHS/WHP coordination was stronger in larger firms and in manufacturing, construction and heath care sectors. More intervention research on trans-disciplinary programs would be helpful for guiding WHP and OHS practitioners. Successful implementation of integrated programs relies on a shift from focusing solely on behavioral interventions (“healthy employees”) to also addressing environmental and system changes (“healthy workplaces”).

Learning Areas:
Chronic disease management and prevention
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Occupational health and safety
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the prevalence of coordinated workplace health promotion and health protection (safety) programs as reported by Massachusetts employers. 2. Explain the conceptual rationale for integrated health protection and health promotion programs for improving employee health outcomes and quality.

Keywords: Workplace Safety, Health Promotion

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a research project manager who helped to design the survey and analyze the results to be presented. I am experienced worksite health promotion researcher who coordinates worksite intervention research activities in several Massachusetts employer study sites.
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.