Partnership to Improve Workplace Safety for In-Home Care Workers

Meet the Investigators

Project Description

The study proposes to address priorities outlined by the National Institute of occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in Community Participation in Research, specifically, by developing and testing a prevention intervention for home care workers, a community at risk because of social, economic and worksetting characteristics that increase their exposure to sexual harassment and workplace violence. Our long-range goal is to use our partnership to develop, implement and evaluate workplace interventions to prevent sexual harassment and workplace violence. Our objectives are to: (1) determine the prevalence, risk, and protective factors related to sexual harassment and workplace violence in female home care workers; and then, (2) collaboratively develop and evaluate strategies to prevent sexual harassment and workplace violence by the employer, in this case – the consumer or patient. Our study partner is the community of 10,000 home care workers (85% female) who are members of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 503 in Oregon.

The study will have three phases. In phase one, the team will determine the prevalence of and risk and protective factors for sexual harassment and workplace violence by a consumer using both qualitative and quantitative techniques. The findings from phase one will then be used by the partners, our advisory board and key stakeholder in phase two to develop and pilot test a sexual harassment and workplace violence prevention intervention. In phase three, we will evaluate the effectiveness of the sexual harassment and workplace violence prevention intervention with home care workers.

The prevention intervention will be tested using an experimental group comparison design with pre-post measures. Home care workers (n=450) will be randomly assigned to one of three groups: (1) Computer-based Instruction (CBI) plus practice and discussion by a trained facilitator; (2) CBI plus small peer-group discussion; and (3) standard brochure. Effectiveness will be measured by comparing pre to post-intervention data including prevention behaviors at work, work patterns, incidents of sexual harassment and workplace violence, health, job satisfaction and intent to leave employment. This study will advance knowledge by providing a model for partnership and collaboration and by validating a prevention intervention that can be disseminated nationally to improve worker safety and health practices and policies.

Public Health Relevance

This study will build the evidence necessary to advance and challenge existing paradigms for home care worker safety and well-being through innovative partnerships, design and testing of appropriate sexual harassment and workplace violence prevention interventions.