Lee Newman, MD, MA, University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus; Liliana Tenney, DrPH, University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus; Carol Brown, PhD, University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus; Cathy Bradley, PhD, University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus; Charlotte Farewell, PhD, MPH, University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus; Gwenith Fisher, PhD, Colorado State University; Katherine James, PhD, University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus; Jini Puma, PhD, University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus; Natalie Schwatka, PhD, University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus; Courtney Welton-Mitchell, PhD, University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus
Our Center of Excellence for Total Worker Health will continue to focus on high impact, transdisciplinary intervention research, innovative dissemination strategies, and TWH capacity building. We will address TWH in workers who are at high risk of occupational injury and illness. Specifically, we will conduct research and engage in outreach activities, building upon our experience in TWH interventions to benefit workers in small enterprises and other high-risk sectors in the region, including education and agriculture.
The Total Worker Health (TWH) approach prioritizes a hazard-free work environment for all workers. It also brings together all aspects of work in integrated interventions that collectively address worker safety, health, and well-being. The purpose of NIOSH Centers of Excellence for TWH is to develop and conduct a broad range of multidisciplinary research, outreach and education, and evaluation activities that advance the overall safety, health, and well-being of the diverse population of workers in Region 8 and across our nation.
Through our Research and Outreach Cores, CHWE will work across sectors, with a particular focus on the agricultural sector, the service sector (education), and small businesses across all sectors. Each Core and project reflects our commitment to addressing the Healthy People 2030 goals related to OSH, which are primarily addressed through the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA).
We will contribute to research and disseminate interventions that address the needs of our region’s workers who have been less well addressed by the TWH literature to date, including low wage, rural, Latinx, Black, Native American, and contingent workers, among others.
This section describes our proposed work for the next five years as a Center of Excellence.
The TWH Center of Excellence consists of an Evaluation and Planning (E&P) Core, a Research Core, and an Outreach Core. The E&P Core ensures coordination across all cores and research projects of the center and ensures rigorous evaluation leads to programmatic improvements. Key activities include cross-center initiatives, such as the translation and formal validation of a Spanish language version of the NIOSH Well-Being Questionnaire (WellBQ) that will be widely available for use in research and practice.
The Research Core includes a Pilot Projects program and four proposed TWH research projects. “The Intersection of Oncology Care and Worker Well-being” focuses on improving cancer survivors’ well-being and employment outcomes, with a novel intervention leveraging community health care providers (oncology care teams) to apply TWH principles to improve employment outcomes and worker well-being. “Safety and Health Innovation in Preschools” focuses on the early childhood education workforce, which faces many health disparities. This is one of the few studies to focus on the OSH outcomes of this workforce. “TWH in Agriculture” will address the unique stressors experienced in the agricultural workforce, including financial stress, inconsistent weather, loss of sleep, chronic pain and illness, and mental health. Finally, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of emergency preparedness in elementary schools, which also includes planning for natural disasters and active shooter situations. The “Emergency Preparedness and Mental Health in Elementary Schools” project takes emergency preparedness and couples it with addressing and improving the mental health needs of administrators, teachers, labor groups, and staff as related to planning for emergencies.
The Outreach Core prioritizes strategies for translation of research findings and science-based TWH information and resources through: 1) communication and dissemination, 2) education, and 3) implementation. The Outreach Core will coordinate across the center to disseminate findings from the funded research projects to appropriate audiences. Educational activities are designed to promote evidence-based findings for implementing TWH integrated strategies by providing the necessary knowledge and skills to graduate and undergraduate students, practicing professionals, employers, workers, policymakers, and community groups. Educational initiatives include: 1) leading the planning of and co-hosting the 3rd International Symposium to Advance Total Worker Health in October 2022, 2) launching a continuing education Certificate in TWH Program that will target professionals who want the training but who do not require university course credits, and 3) hosting a webinar series bringing together experts to participate in learning communities of practice to address emerging issues. Major implementation initiatives include: 1) the Health Links program, providing assessment, advising, and Healthy Workplace Certification which will continue to serve as the hub for TWH outreach and 2) the development of the Society for TWH which will provide a new community for individual professionals and both non- and for-profit entities to share ideas and collaborate around TWH research, training, dissemination, and real-world solutions.
The Center for Health, Work & Environment will have high public health impact for healthy and safe worksites and workers through its program of research, r2p, education/training, partnerships and other dissemination activities. It will advance scientific knowledge by establishing new, innovative worksite programs to benefit both workers and employers, test relevant theoretical models, and emphasize helping those working in small enterprises, and in other high-risk industries.