Online Program

An Examination of Musculoskeletal Disorders, Psychosocial Factors, and Ergonomic Factors in a Sample of Home Health Aides

Monday, November 2, 2015

Lauren Murphy, PhD, Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Alberto J. Caban-Martinez, DO, PhD, MPH, CPH, Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL
Debi Brannan, PhD, Department of Psychological Sciences, Western Oregon University, Monmouth, OR
Rose Goldman, MD, MPH, Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Background/Purpose: Home health aides are exposed to various occupational hazards, including working in unfamiliar environments, having no direct supervision, and having less access to lifting equipment than health aides in institutional settings like hospitals. We report on findings from key informant interviews and focus groups that are part of a larger mixed-methods study to collect and analyze data on the musculoskeletal disorders, psychosocial and ergonomics factors of this workforce.

Methods: An exploratory sequential mixed-methods design was used to collect data over a 10-month period of time. Phase 1 involved structured interviews with key informants and focus groups with questions pertaining to work experience, job satisfaction, muscle and joint pain, health risks from work, ergonomics, and opened ended questions regarding general concerns about work and health. A 16-item demographic survey was also administered.

Results/Outcomes:  Two key informant interviews and three focus groups were held with 32 home health workers. Being a home health worker was the primary job of 83.3% of participants. Over 89% of the sample was in a non-supervisory role. Having more than one job was reported by 32.2% of participants. One third of all participants reported that they have experienced muscle/joint pain. From the focus groups, there were three emerging themes:  (a) the organization of the job; (b) worker health; and (c) pay/reimbursement schemes.

Conclusion: Home health aides have unique physical and psychosocial exposures from the client home and agency. Reporting and validation of survey results in a larger sample is needed to verify contextual factors that contribute to MSD reporting.

Learning Areas:

Occupational health and safety
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Compare the occurrence of musculoskeletal disorders with the psychosocial and ergonomic factors found in a home health aide population.

Keyword(s): Workforce, Occupational Health and Safety

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am an osteopathic physician (DO) and doctoral trained epidemiologist (PhD) with board certification in public health (CPH). I conceptualized and supported the analyses conducted in this research project.
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.