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WORK ORGANIZATION AND STRESS-RELATED DISORDERS

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Activities: Other Intramural Activities

Work Organization Measures Inventory

The purpose of this activity is to facilitate research on risks associated with the changing organization of work by broadly disseminating methodological information that has historically been confined to a small community of experts. A web-based information resource was created to enable researchers and practitioners to quickly and easily identify work organization and/or workplace psychosocial measures (http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/workorg/). To date the database contains 50 instruments with over 300 measures. The website is typically accessed over 400 times per month by individuals from around the world. Development of the database content is on-going. Future development may be more targeted to ensure sufficient attention is directed towards new and emerging forms of work organization (e.g., flexible workplace practices and new management technologies), industry and occupation-specific measures, and non-survey-based methodologies (e.g., diaries, interviews, checklists). NIOSH welcomes input from the public in nominating additional instruments for inclusion in the database.

Activity contact: Leslie MacDonald
Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations, and Field Studies
(513) 841-4428
Activity period: 2005-Continuous


Florida Hurricane Response Survey Study

This is a longitudinal research study of the Florida Department of Health employees commencing 9 months after the 2004 hurricane season, where Florida was hit by four serious storms. The study examines individual, workplace and community responses using a web-based survey. Aims of the study are to identify the experiences that impact on the ability to cope and recover from the hurricanes, and includes measures for acute stress disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, interpersonal and work impairment, health risk behaviors (e.g., use of alcohol and tobacco), health care utilization, evacuation, and time to return to usual work and daily activities. The study is also constructed to identify individuals at risk for adverse mental health outcomes and to examine the mediators of posttraumatic stress (e.g., social support networks, community and workplace factors) and the contribution of individual, community, and workplace factors to recovery time. Work-related factors being assessed include measures of physical and cognitive workload, workload variance, control over the work, safety climate, functional social support, and job satisfaction (drawn from the NIOSH Generic Job Stress Questionnaire). Items inquiring about organizational structure and function during the emergency will be framed for use by managers and policy makers in terms of modifying staffing schedules, communication between management and staff, coordination of work assignments, changing organizational priorities, and responsiveness to problems.

Project contact: Dori Reissman
NIOSH Office of the Director
(202) 245-0625
Activity period: 2005-Continuous


Deployment Health and Safety

This project seeks to provide the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) with guidance about key components and foster critical partnerships to ensure worker safety and health for federal personnel deployed in response to incidents of national significance (e.g., ESF #8) or public health emergencies such as disease outbreaks and disasters of various kinds (biological, chemical, radiological, natural, and humanitarian relief). Such emergency deployments are best made using previously prepared and medically cleared personnel. Hazards and risks presented by deployments may be directly related to the reason for the deployment (infectious disease outbreak, disaster) or incidental to the deployment (endemic diseases, lack of medical facilities, and physical security hazards such as street crime and terrorism at the deployment location). Proper identification of hazards, assessment of the risks presented by these hazards, and appropriate real-time control measures can, in most cases, reduce exposure to hazards and the consequent risks associated with the hazards that are present. Guidance and implementation requires intergovernmental coordination for effective worksite health and safety protection via the use of a hierarchy of exposure controls (engineering controls, administrative policies, and personal protective equipment) and safe work practices. Programmatic aspects would need to consider activities throughout the lifecycle of emergency events, including pre-deployment preparation, deployment support and real-time exposure assessment, and post-deployment evaluation and service.

Project contact: Dori Reissman
NIOSH Office of the Director
(202) 245-0625
Activity period: 2006-Continuous


CDC/ATSDR Responder Resilience Initiative

NIOSH is providing expertise and technical assistance to this initiative, advising the CDC/ATSDR Office of Health and Safety, the Medical Advisory Board, and the Coordinating Office of Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response on issues pertinent to the health and well-being of agency response personnel. Knowledge is drawn from organizational assessments, external research studies, and internal research, program evaluation, and after-action analyses of major deployment operations. Information is synthesized with a multidisciplinary working group and provided to senior management with the aim of improving safety, promoting organizational flexibility and growth, and enhancing staff and organizational recovery from emergency operations. This approach supports several CDC Preparedness Goals (Prevent, Recover, and Improve), CDC Strategic Imperatives (Health Impact, Public Health Research, Leadership for the Nation's Health System, and Effectiveness and Accountability), and the CDC Overarching Healthy Workplaces goals.

Project contact: Dori Reissman
NIOSH Office of the Director
(202) 245-0625
Activity period: 2004-Continuous


fMRI Assessment of Brain Function in Police Officers with PTSD

Brain changes are believed to accompany the behavioral and health changes associated with PTSD - a disorder that can occur in response to traumatic work situations such as those that often occur in police work. NIOSH investigators in conjunction with investigators from the University at Buffalo School of Public Health & Health Professions and the Jacobs Neurological Institute are using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technology to examine police officers from the Buffalo Police Department. In this pilot study 15 officers exhibiting and 15 free from PTSD symptoms will be exposed to pleasant and stressful images while undergoing an fMRI. This will allow the investigators to examine and measure changes in the emotional and reasoning regions of the brain during these exposures in individual officers and also allow them to determine how PTSD may modify the brain's response to these images. The data from this pilot project may be used to develop a larger project concerning the impact of PTSD on brain function in police officers.

Project contact: Cecil Burchfiel
Health Effects Laboratory Division
(304) 285-6121
Activity period: 2007-Continuous


Stakeholders and Networking - Calgary Police Service

Investigators at NIOSH are networked with investigators from the Calgary Police Service (CPS) and the Centre for Sleep and Human Performance to provide consultation and advice in the CPS's research aimed at assisting CPS personnel to manage shift work and mitigate the long-term health effects of these work schedules. The CPS Health and Human Performance Research Initiative is about to enter Phase III. Research methods developed in Phases I and II will be applied on a large scale, long-term basis in Phase III and will serve to collect information on officer health. It is believed this work will yield valid, reliable data that can be used to form the basis for CPS policy and procedures governing scheduling and health promotion. It will also provide a foundation for developing evidence-based educational programming to the Calgary Police Service and their families. NIOSH investigators will continue to interact and network with these stakeholders.

Project contact: Cecil Burchfiel
Health Effects Laboratory Division
(304) 285-6121
Activity period: 2002-Continuous


Measuring Risk and Safety Climate to prepare for Pandemic Influenza

The purpose of the project is to develop and validate a safety climate assessment tool for emergency responders, healthcare, utilities, and other essential workers. A survey instrument (tool) will be used to assess ability and willingness to report to work, with particular emphasis on workplace safety and safety climate. Once validated, this instrument will become an innovative organizational tool enabling emergency managers to improve their pre-event preparedness and prevention efforts. It will provide detailed observations regarding the needs and concerns of their employees with respect to emergency response and how to improve worker safety and the ability of each organization to perform its mission.

Project contact: Ted Scharf and Kellie Pierson
Division of Applied Research and Technology
(513) 533-8462
Project period: 2008-2011


Employer Guidance: Addressing High Rates of Specific Diseases

NIOSH has been working with health insurers to calculate rates of several specific diseases in over 200 industries. Insurers plan to offer statistical reports to interested employers and have a need for accompanying informational materials that will enable employers to grasp quickly the potential role of workplace risk factors in contributing to elevated rates of disease and health care costs, and to access the best resources for exposure assessment and prevention. The guidance will be in the form of brochures or similar, concise and engaging documents, also made available on the web. Each one will focus on a single health condition or set of closely related conditions. Priority conditions include health outcomes associated with workplace stress, such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease and depression, as well as asthma, and low back pain.

Project contact: Tim Bushnell
Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations, and Field Studies
(513) 841-4428
Project period: 2007-2012


Focus Groups at the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

In response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, BP requested a Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) from NIOSH on May 28, 2010. As part of this evaluation, the NIOSH HHE investigative team conducted focus groups on Safety Officers dealing with the crews of the Vessels of Opportunity in Venice, Louisiana, to gather information on job stress and work organization issues during the Oil Spill response. A total of 44 (90% participation) Safety Officers discussed topics such as job stressors, behavioral indicators of stress, suggestions for improving working conditions, and work-family conflict. A report summarizing the findings of these focus groups will be posted to www.cdc.gov/niosh/hhe.

Project contact: Doug Wiegand
Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations, and Field Studies
(513) 841-4428
Project period: 2010


Expert Panel on the Measurement of Job Stress for Health Hazard Evaluations (HHEs)

The mission of the NIOSH HHE Program is to respond to requests to investigate potential occupational health hazards and to make recommendations for improving work conditions. NIOSH project officers seek to measure and address work organization factors associated with job stress (i.e., “stressors”) when an HHE request or subsequent information gathering indicates such issues may be adversely affecting employees. The objective of this project is to facilitate a panel session of 6-8 experts (both internal and external to NIOSH) to discuss and select stress-related tools best suited for use in the field during HHEs (i.e., practical investigative instruments as opposed to research tools). The specific aims of this project are:

  1. To select existing measures of job stress for applied use in a broad range of occupational settings, though focusing on the sectors which submit the majority of HHE requests: services, health care and social assistance, manufacturing, and construction
  2. To document the expert panel process and results in a report/rationale discussion paper
  3. To disseminate the selected measures and rationale to the public (e.g., online)

Project contact: Doug Wiegand
Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations, and Field Studies
(513) 841-4428
Project period: 2010

 

 
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  • Page last reviewed: September 3, 2013
  • Page last updated: September 3, 2013
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