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Intervention research: science, skills, and strategies.

Schulte PA; Goldenhar LM; Connally LB
Am J Ind Med 1996 Apr; 29(4):285-288
A three part approach to developing intervention research for occupational health and safety was presented. The three parts of the method were science, skills, and strategies. Ideas and methods from clinical trials, epidemiology and evaluation practice, constituted the scientific aspect of intervention research. Occupational studies could be based on experimental or nonexperimental methods. Epidemiology has a long history of assessing the effectiveness of health services. Epidemiological techniques have been developed for evaluating health interventions by impact on the whole population, rather than on those who seek care. Opportunities for early disease detection and prevention have been derived from epidemiological knowledge of the natural history of diseases and from risk factors. Molecular epidemiology has provided means for establishing intermediate markers between exposure to a causative agent and the resulting disease. Evaluation research, or the application of social science to assessing effectiveness of social programs, shares with epidemiology the application of statistical analysis to experiments based on random matching of subjects and treatments. Intervention research has been challenged by the need for studies in social and occupational areas where such controlled experiments are ethically and practically impossible. Few occupational health and safety professionals appear to have acquired the skills required for intervention research. Among these interdisciplinary skills are expertise in anthropology, economics, engineering, organizational theory, psychology and sociology. Intervention research strategies could be based on labor and management partnerships, prospective studies and employment of intermediate and surrogate indicators. Assessment of new interventions, especially those for injuries and acute, rather than chronic, health problems could use prospective designs and require intermediate indicators in place of disease outcomes. Obtaining informed consent of subjects, the cooperation of labor and management and overcoming barriers due to workplace politics have been among the strategic challenges faced by intervention researches.
NIOSH-Author; Accident-prevention; Disease-prevention; Injury-prevention; Occupational-health; Occupational-safety-programs; Safety-research; Workplace-studies; Author Keywords: intervention research; health services research; clinical trials; evaluation occupational health; disease prevention
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American Journal of Industrial Medicine
Page last reviewed: October 9, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division