HWPP Case Study: A Healthy Sleep Intervention for Supervisors (pdf)
Population: Correctional Supervisors
Problem: Sleep Impacts on Health and Safety


The Healthy Workplace Participatory Program (HWPP) is a toolkit to help employers implement a participatory Total Worker Health® program. The Intervention Design and Analysis Scorecard (IDEAS) tool, Part of the HWPP Toolkit, illustrates a structured process, which helps to facilitate meaningful involvement of front-line workers in identifying and designing solutions to address root causes of workplace health, safety, and well-being concerns. This case study describes how the HWPP tool was used to address health and safety concerns related to poor sleep among correctional supervisors.

Problem and Setting: Poor Sleep as a Health and Safety Concern in Corrections

Correctional supervisors (i.e., lieutenants, captains, and counselor supervisors) identified poor sleep quality and quantity as a significant health and safety concern. These employees have high physical and psychological job demands, work in shifts, subject to mandatory overtime, and are often with limited organizational support. These job characteristics are associated with poor sleep, which may result in poor health and workplace accidents. Using the HWPP IDEAS Tool, the Connecticut Correctional SupervisorsDesign Team (DT) identified the root causes of poor sleep.

Improving Poor Sleep: Designing and Testing a Sleep Intervention

The DT used the IDEAS tool to identify root causes of poor sleep. They developed intervention objectives and activities, and then identified and applied criteria to select intervention ideas with the most significant potential for success. The DT next created a Healthy Sleep Intervention that included healthy sleep training and a smartphone-based sleep-tracking app named CorrectSleep. The healthy sleep training included sleep hygiene concepts and a simple guided meditation to improve sleep among shift workers with long or irregular work hours. The CorrectSleep app was designed to send two daily questions about sleep hours and quality. It also provided daily feedback on users’ sleep debt and weekly feedback comparing users’ sleep hours compared to other supervisors in the user group.

The DT recruited 101 supervisors to pilot- test the intervention. They divided participants into two groups to test the effectiveness of specific intervention components: (1) those who only received the Health Sleep Training, and (2) those who used the CorrectSleep app for two weeks prior to receiving the Healthy Sleep Training. Group 1 took one survey prior to the training and two after completing the training at one- and three-months post-intervention. Group 2 took a survey prior to using the app and two weeks after, as well as a survey prior to the training and one- and three months post-intervention. Further, all participants received a weekly “Sleep Tip” via email to reinforce the content that was delivered in the Healthy Sleep Training, including reminders to use the sleep hygiene and meditation skills they learned to improve their sleep.

Program Impact

Results of the Healthy Sleep Intervention showed that using the CorrectSleep app alone (without also taking the training) led to increased self-awareness regarding sleep, knowledge about managing sleep debt, frequency of managing sleep debt, and sleep quality. The training resulted in less difficulty sleeping due to physical health problems, and less use of substances to help with fatigue management. Finally, participants who completed both the Healthy Sleep Training and used the CorrectSleep App (i.e., a combined approach) reported greater improvements compared to those who only completed the training, including greater self-awareness regarding sleep hours, sleep debt, and the average sleep hours of other supervisors. It also resulted in better overall sleep quality, and less difficulty sleeping due to a physical health problem.

Findings showed that using community-based participatory research in corrections may result in evidence-based interventions that improve the health, safety, and well-being of correctional workers. Moreover, it provides evidence that participatory Total Worker Health approach can increase program sustainability. The success of this study empowered the correctional supervisors’ union to negotiate a one-day annual training on health and wellness for correctional supervisors, of which the Healthy Sleep Training will be an ongoing core component.

About the Research Project:

Colleagues through the University of Connecticut (UConn) and the CT Department of Correction (CT DOC) named their Healthy Workplace Participatory Program, Health Improvement Through Employee Control (HITEC). Their slogan is “For Staff, By Staff.” It is a collaborative effort between CT DOC administrators, UConn, correctional staff, and their bargaining representatives. HITEC is currently supported by the State of Connecticut.

Total Worker Health® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Participation by the Center for the Promotion of Health in the New England Workplace (CPH-NEW) does not imply endorsement by HHS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). CPH-NEW was supported by Grant Numbers 1 U19 OH008857 and 1 U19 OH012299 from the NIOSH.