Principal Investigator: Alicia Kurowski, Sc.D.

Research Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering, UMass Lowell

Project Period: 2021-2026

Health care workers -- 11 percent of the US labor force -- have a staggering range of occupational hazards including physically demanding work, job burnout, assaults, needle-stick injuries, exposure to biological and infectious agents, shiftwork, extended hours, organizational instability, and frequent restructuring. These working conditions contribute to well-documented negative health outcomes.

SHIFT II is a large and multi-phase participatory research study addressing the health safety, and wellbeing of these health care workers. Our overall objective is to evaluate and compare two new strategies for implementing an integrated Total Worker Health® approach:

  1. engaging workers in health and safety problem-solving in a specific workplace; and
  2. engaging workers in health and safety problem-solving through union-based training.

Our Total Worker Health® (TWH) intervention program, the Healthy Workplace Participatory Program (HWPP), teaches workers to use root cause analysis for identifying problems and generating solutions. This program is being used and evaluated in public healthcare facilities in the SHIFT I study, with strong worker engagement. Two extensions of this work will be undertaken in SHIFT II. The objective is to compare different strategies for engaging workers in health and safety problem-solving.

  1. The Healthy Workplace Participatory Program will be tailored to conditions within a current large study site, a a Massachusetts Department of Mental Health facility. The project includes a study of the long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the health and well-being of workers.
  2. Researchers will develop and implement a Train-the-Trainer program for the staff of healthcare unions and worker associations in Massachusetts and Connecticut. The goal is to build a long-term, sustainable health and safety leadership and advocacy, specifically designed for effectively engaging with management.