National Occupational Research Agenda for Healthcare and Social Assistance

The National Occupational Research Agenda for Healthcare and Social Assistance (HCSA) is intended to identify the knowledge and actions most urgently needed to improve occupational safety and health in this industry sector. This agenda provides a vehicle for interested parties to describe the most relevant issues, research gaps, and needs for the HCSA workforce. It is meant to be broader than any one agency or organization.

To develop the agenda, council participants identified priorities, which were then compiled into a comprehensive list. These priorities were organized into six topic areas and a workgroup was formed for each one:

  • Worker safety and patient safety
  • Infectious diseases and sharps safety
  • Safe patient handling and slips, trips and falls
  • Hazardous drugs and chemicals
  • Veterinary medicine/animal care
  • Setting-specific workers (e.g., home care workers, long-term care employees, correctional healthcare workers, childcare workers and other social service workers).

The six workgroups developed objectives and justifications that were compiled into a draft agenda. Some objectives were combined as several workgroups may have identified the same or similar research needs. The draft agenda was presented to the entire HCSA Sector Council for their comments and changes. After a public comment period on the draft, the agenda was revised to respond to the comments received and then finalized.

National Occupational Research Agenda for Healthcare and Social Assistance

Objective 1: Assess how work organization impacts both worker and patient safety.

Objective 2: Assess the impact of organizational culture and leadership on worker and patient safety including satisfaction/quality of life.

Objective 3: Investigate the epidemiology of workplace violence in health care and identify effective strategies for prevention and mitigation.

Objective 4: Determine the effectiveness of innovative technologies and organizational strategies to improve recommended standard and transmission-based precautions in healthcare settings.

Objective 5: Promote development and identify impact of occupational infectious disease surveillance to improve infection control and biosafety practices in healthcare settings in order to minimize or eliminate healthcare personnel exposures to infectious diseases and to better understand how these diseases spread.

Objective 6: Assess awareness and increase knowledge of sharps injury prevention programs, and improve injury surveillance programs designed to prevent sharps injuries among healthcare personnel.

Objective 7: Determine the impact of current and new interventions and technologies designed to prevent sharps injuries among healthcare personnel.

Objective 8: Facilitate safe patient handling and mobility in healthcare systems by conducting research to develop and assess cost-benefit tools, workplace design and equipment management protocols, and strategies to improve sustained support of safe patient handling and mobility programs by workers, managers, and executives.

Objective 9: Conduct special topics research to improve safety in areas with distinct safe patient handling and mobility needs and explore the potential use of new, non-traditional assistive devices.

Objective 10: Develop and evaluate updated safe patient handling and mobility education in nursing schools and healthcare workplaces, and initiate new research to address gaps in safe patient handling and mobility education.

Objective 11: Conduct research that develops, implements, and evaluates prevention programs and design strategies that decrease the risk of slip, trip and fall incidents and identify barriers to intervention implementation.

Objective 12: Develop and implement methods to identify, assess, control and prevent exposure to hazardous drugs, biological pharmaceuticals, reproductive hormones and other chemicals (e.g., cleaners, disinfectants, sterilants) in acute care human and veterinary healthcare settings and for difficult-to-access, low wage and underserved workers in home care, animal care, day care and other social services.

Objective 13: Identify and evaluate methods to promote adoption and implementation of hazardous drug safe handling programs in non-hospital settings and veterinary practices.

Objective 14: Increase knowledge about, implement strategies to mitigate, and evaluate existing prevention strategies regarding biological, physical and psychological hazards to veterinary and animal care workers.

Objective 15: Develop or adapt, implement, and evaluate interventions found to be effective in acute healthcare and other settings for long term care, home care, home healthcare, correctional care, child care, and other social services.

Objective 16: Explore the impact of emerging and existing work organization factors and nontraditional systems on worker health and safety, with a particular emphasis on low-wage occupations.

Objective 17: Establish a strong focus on challenges to the safe care of people in their home environment that engages a broad range of stakeholders in identifying issues and developing solutions.

Page last reviewed: May 23, 2022