An epidemiologic evaluation of a worksite based intervention

Jessica Tullar, The University of Texas School of Public Health


The healthcare industry spends billions on worker injury and employee turnover. Hospitals and healthcare settings have one of the highest rates of lost days due to injuries. The occupational hazards for healthcare workers can be classified into biological, chemical, ergonomic, physical, organizational, and psychosocial. Therefore, interventions addressing a range of occupational health risks are needed to prevent injuries and reduce turnover and reduce costs. The Sacred Vocation Program (SVP) seeks to change the content of work, i.e., the meaningfulness of work, to improve work environments. The SVP intervenes at both the individual and organizational level. First the SVP attempts to connect healthcare workers with meaning from their work through a series of 5 self-discovery group sessions. In a sixth session the graduates take an oath recommitting them to do their work as a vocation. Once motivated to connect with meaning in their work, a representative employee group meets in a second set of five meetings. This representative group suggests organizational changes to create a culture that supports employees in their calling. The employees present their plan in the twelfth session to management beginning a new phase in the existing dialogue between employees and management. The SVP was implemented in a large Dallas hospital (almost 1000 licensed beds). The Baylor University Medical Center (BUMC) Pastoral Care department invited front-line caregivers (primarily Patient Care Assistants, PCAs, or Patient Care Technicians, PCTs) to participate in the SVP. Participants completed SVP questionnaires at the beginning and following SVP implementation. Following implementation, employer records were collected on injury, absence and turnover to further evaluate the program's effectiveness on metrics that are meaningful to managers in assessing organizational performance. This provided an opportunity to perform an epidemiological evaluation of the intervention using the two sources of information: employee self-reports and employer administrative data. The ability to evaluate the effectiveness of the SVP on program outcomes could be limited by the strength of the measures used. An ordinal CFA performed on baseline SVP questionnaire measurements examined the construct validity and reliability of the SVP scales. Scales whose item-factor structure was confirmed in ordinal CFA were evaluated for their psychometric properties (i.e., reliability, mean, ceiling and floor effects). CFA supported the construct validity of six of the proposed scales: blocks to spirituality, meaning at work, work satisfaction, affective commitment, collaborative communication, and MHI-5. Five of the six scales confirmed had acceptable measures of reliability (all but MHI-5 had α>0.7). All six scales had a high percentage (>30%) of the scores at the ceiling. These findings supported the use of these items in the evaluation of change although strong ceiling effects may hinder discerning change. Next, the confirmed SVP scales were used to evaluate whether the intervention improved program constructs. To evaluate the SVP a one group pretest-posttest design compared participants’ self-reports before and after the intervention. It was hypothesized that measurements of reduced blocks to spirituality (α = 0.76), meaning at work (α = 0.86), collaborative communication (α = 0.67) and SVP job tasks (α = 0.97) would improve following SVP implementation. The SVP job tasks scale was included even though it was not included in the ordinal CFA analysis due to a limited sample and high inter-item correlation. Changes in scaled measurements were assessed using multilevel linear regression methods. All post-intervention measurements increased (increases <0.28 points) but only reduced blocks to spirituality was statistically significant (0.22 points on a scale from 1 to 7, p < 0.05) after adjustment for covariates. Intensity of the intervention (stratifying on high participation units) strengthened effects; but were not statistically significant. The findings provide preliminary support for the hypothesis that meaning in work can be improved and, importantly, lend greater credence to any observed improvements in the outcomes. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)

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Recommended Citation

Tullar, Jessica, "An epidemiologic evaluation of a worksite based intervention" (2008). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3301682.