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2016 Pilot Grants

Impact of a Pedal-Desk on Post-Meal Glucose, Insulin and Triglyceride Blood Levels

Principal Investigator: Stuart Chipkin, M.D. 

Increasing levels of inactivity have been linked to rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease through the mechanism of insulin resistance. While sedentary workplace environments have unintentionally contributed to the risk for chronic diseases, innovations in the workplace environment could potentially rectify this public and occupational health problem. A recently developed prototype “pedal-desk” allows an employee to remain seated and mildly active while working. We propose to conduct a pilot test involving 12 sedentary workers who are overweight or obese and at increased risk for chronic health conditions. Subjects will be given a standardized meal with known carbohydrate and fat content. An IV catheter placed in their arm will be used to obtain blood samples every 15 minutes for a total of two hours. Participants will be randomly assigned to perform computer related activities either at a standard desk or at the pedal-desk. 

In a subsequent visit, they will cross over to the alternate condition. Thus, all subjects will be exposed to standard desk and pedaldesk. Blood samples will be analyzed for glucose, insulin, and triglycerides. We will determine whether pedal-desk activity positively impacts blood glucose, insulin action, and lipid levels. The results from this pilot project are expected to provide preliminary data for an NIH grant to explore more detailed questions about the impact of the pedal-desk in workers who either currently have or at risk for chronic health conditions. The pedaldesk has the potential to achieve public and occupational health goals in sedentary work environments.

Development and Implementation of a Healthy Sleep Intervention for Correctional Supervisors Using Participatory Action Research

Principal Investigator: Alicia Dugan, Ph.D. 

Correctional officers have a lower life expectancy than the national average. Their poor health is an important but overlooked research topic. The Connecticut Correctional Supervisors Council partnered with UConn Health to form a Design Team (DT) to develop and implement interventions to improve correctional supervisors’ (CS) health. Using CPH-NEW tools, poor sleep quality and quantity was identified as a priority health concern. The DT developed a Healthy Sleep Intervention composed of a Healthy Sleep Training and a smartphone based Sleep Tracking App which will be delivered to new and senior supervisors. Participants will be divided into two intervention arms. Group A will receive the Healthy Sleep Training only. Group B will receive the Healthy Sleep Training plus the Sleep Tracking App, to prime sleep behavior by increasing awareness of sleep quantity and quality prior to receiving the training. The content for the Healthy Sleep Training (a sleep hygiene checklist and a guided meditation) have already been created; the Sleep Tracking App and communications materials have yet to be developed. To evaluate the intervention, quantitative data will be collected from CSs in 19 Connecticut correctional facilities (n=300) who participate in the training. We will assess the efficacy of both the Sleep Tracking App and the Healthy Sleep Training via pre- and post-intervention surveys, examine whether a combined intervention (Group B) results in the better outcomes than the training alone (Group A), and assess the relationship between innovation characteristics and dissemination and implementation-related outcomes.  The long-term goal is for the training to become a core component of the annual CS training and new CS orientation.

Strengthening Workplace Health and Safety Committees

Principal Investigator: Michael Fitts, Executive Director

Connecticut businesses that employ 25 or more employees are required to have a health and safety committee (HSC) comprised of both managers and workers.  How well the committee functions depends on the committee’s focus on workplace health and safety issues as well as the level of cooperation between management and workers. There has been growing concern among ConnectiCOSH members that HSC are not working as they were originally attended and there is an interest in incorporating concepts of worker wellbeing, in line with NIOSH’s Total Worker Health® (TWH) initiative. We propose to assess the strengths and weaknesses, including the extent of TWH practice and readiness, among Connecticut’s Health and Safety Committees (HSC) and to strengthen HSC by providing knowledge in TWH concepts.

Latinas Transforming Research into Action to Stop Harassment and Violence at Work (Latinas TRASH Violence at Work)

Principal Investigator: Mirna Montano

Latinas Transforming Research into Action to Stop Harassment and Violence at Work (Latinas TRASH Violence at Work) will engage Latina women, members of the MassCOSH Worker Center Global Women’s Committee, in conducting surveys and focus groups to document their own experiences and the impact of violence, barriers to taking action to stop the abuses and recommendations for policies and work practices that would protect their health and well-being.  The findings will be used to develop health protection and promotion intervention and public policy recommendations for use by MassCOSH worker center members and other interested stakeholders.

Total Worker Health from the Shop Floor: A Union-Led Design Team Process to Identify Workplace Health Protection and Promotion Priorities for New York City Child Welfare Workers. 

Principal Investigator: Jennifer Zelnick, MSW, Sc.D.

Work stress, secondary traumatic stress (STS), and workplace violence contribute to burnout and turnover among child welfare workers. These hazards impact worker health, health behaviors, and service quality. Interventions initiated by New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) management have not been fully embraced by the workforce. We propose to pilot and evaluate a union-led participatory process to: (1) Characterize work-related job stress and health issues for public child welfare workers. (2) Identify barriers and facilitators to workplace health protection/health promotion activities. (3) Explore how the union contract and collective bargaining process can be used to support workplace health.