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Overcoming practical challenges in intervention research in occupational health and safety.
Am J Ind Med 1996 Apr; 29(4):367-372
Overcoming practical challenges when performing intervention research in occupational health and safety was discussed. When performing interventions directed at developing and evaluating ways to correct identified work hazards, researchers must operate in real workplaces and communities where controllable research conditions are the exception rather than the rule. Intervention researchers will be confronted by a number of practical challenges including gaining access to study population, maximizing participation rates, providing valid answers to sensitive questions, and meeting ethical obligations when health or legal problems are discovered during the course of the study. Strategies for addressing these challenges were discussed and illustrated by a retrospective evaluation of the implementation of the 1984 OSHA ethylene-oxide (75218) standard in Massachusetts hospitals. Access was gained to the study population, sterilization department managers, by demonstrating the expertise of the researchers, demonstrating the relevancy of the research, and obtaining the sponsorship of two professional hospital management organizations. Maximizing subject participation was achieved by promising the study subjects summary reports of the study findings, listening to their concerns, and developing rapport with the subjects. Sensitive questions were dealt with by maintaining repeated contact with the subjects and collecting data in progressive levels of detail. The challenge of meeting ethical obligations was met by anticipating hazards that might be discovered, developing methods to intervene within the context of the study if any hazards were discovered, and developing strategies for addressing imminent danger situations. In the actual study, a participation rate of 96% was achieved. Ethical considerations were dealt with by linking the research to a service whereby a free health and safety consultation was to be offered to each hospital after the study was completed. No imminent danger situations were detected during the study.
NIOSH-Publication; NIOSH-Grant; Grants-other; Occupational-health-programs; Disease-prevention; Sociological-factors; Epoxides; Disinfectants; Health-care-facilities; Author Keywords: intervention research; qualitative research; ethylene oxide; regulation; OSHA; social sciences; disease prevention
Anthony D. LaMontagne, Occupational Health Program, Harvard School of Public Health, 665 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115-9957
Issue of Publication
Other Occupational Concerns; Grants-other
American Journal of Industrial Medicine
Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts
Page last reviewed: April 12, 2019
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division