William S. Shaw, PhD, University of CT Health Center; Laura Punnett, ScD, University of MA Lowell; Suzanne Nobrega, MS, University of MA Lowell
The Center for Promotion of Health in the New England Workforce (CPH-NEW) has as its goal to be a national leader in research, policy, and practice to achieve our vision of improved health, safety, and well-being for all working people.
TWH is defined as policies, programs, and practices that integrate protection from work-related safety and health hazards with promotion of injury and illness prevention efforts to advance worker well-being. TWH is a holistic, integrated way to help workers stay healthy and safe both on and off the job. To inspire innovation and to design integrative approaches and inform current policies, programs, and practices, NIOSH funds seven academic Centers of Excellence, of which CPH-NEW is one.
CPH-NEW is an interdisciplinary team with expertise in medicine, epidemiology, psychology, nursing, public health, education, and management. The Center is led by Co-Directors William Shaw and Laura Punnett and includes researchers from University of Connecticut Health Center (Farmington, CT), the University of Connecticut (Storrs, CT), and the University of Massachusetts Lowell (Lowell, MA). Our Center has 3 specific aims: (1) conducting research projects to examine challenges, opportunities, strategies, benefits, and costs of integrated programs for workforce health, safety, and well-being; (2) providing knowledge transfer and exchange of TWH workplace practice and policies; and (3) creating an effective leadership and evaluation structure to achieve our research and outreach goals. A signature methodology of our Center is the Healthy Workplace Participatory Program (HWPP), a stepwise, participatory approach to generate and evaluate context-specific interventions. Our three primary research projects and Outreach core are summarized below:
Safety and Health through Integrated, Facilitated Teams II Study (SHIFT II) (Project PI: Alicia Kurowski): SHIFT II is a large and multi-phase intervention study addressing the health of health care workers, a set of critical public service occupations with significant physical and psychosocial stressors. The overall research objective is to evaluate two implementation strategies for employee engagement (employer-based and union-based) to integrate TWH concepts into practice.
Total Teacher Health (TTH) (Project PI: Jennifer Cavallari): The TTH project is a large, multi-phase intervention study focusing on the well-being of teachers in the public education system. The overall objective is to develop and test a feasible and effective process that school districts can use to promote and protect the well-being of their teachers through continuous improvement of the work environment. The first phase is a prospective study to quantify associations between demands, resources, and teacher well-being. The second phase will involve a partnership with teachers and schools to adapt the HWPP approach and toolkit within the public education context. A third phase will test the effectiveness of the new program when introduced in a stepped-wedge design across six paired elementary schools.
TWH Employer Crisis Preparedness (TWH-ECP) (Project PI: Cora Roelofs): The TWH-ECP project is a 2-year exploratory study of organizational and educational approaches that imbed TWH concepts into employer crisis planning and preparedness. The overall objective is to work with key partners in the Human Resources (HR) field and other stakeholder organizations to disseminate a TWH approach in employer crisis planning to employers. The project will develop and disseminate two training programs (low-intensity vs. high-intensity) to HR personnel, and to compare resulting changes in organizational perceptions, awareness and concerns relating to crisis preparedness, and knowledge of preparedness domains.
Outreach Core (Project PI: Suzanne Nobrega): This project of CPH-NEW, the Research-to-Practice (r2p) Hub, translates research knowledge and lessons generated through implementation materials and programs designed to improve the adoption of TWH in real-world employment settings. Goals include: (1) increasing awareness and engagement with key stakeholders to utilize TWH research and educational materials; (2) building TWH competencies of pre-professional and working practitioners; (3) increasing capacity of employer organizations to implement TWH programs; and (4) developing and evaluating sustainability tools to support TWH programs built through our legacy partnerships, especially in the Corrections workforce.
Activities of CPH-NEW are coordinated effectively through weekly leadership and project meetings, cross-project teams, and an External Advisory Committee. Outputs from our Center include research publications, educational seminars and programs, implementation and evaluation tools, organizational resources and surveys, newsletters, website offerings, and detailed HWPP training and user materials. CPH-NEW has a 15-year track record of innovative research partnerships, publications, and outputs that can be found at www.uml.edu/cph-new.
Features of CPH-NEW are interdisciplinary and cross-campus collaboration; shared ideas and methods across projects; a common core interest in developing participatory and worker empowerment approaches; continuous improvement of HWPP tools and guidance to users; a focus on mental health and well-being in addition to physical health; and prioritizing research and outreach with essential public sector workers.
CPH-NEW, along with the other NIOSH-funded TWH Centers of Excellence, provides important resources, research findings, and infrastructure to support a holistic and integrated view of worker health, and safety, and well-being.