This Workplace Health Research Network Collaborating Center for Underserved Workers engages investigators, businesses, community organizations, and state and local government agencies in developing an intervention research agenda that addresses prevention of chronic diseases and adverse health conditions for the working poor. This center will participate in the development of a flourishing network of Workplace Health Research Network members among the CDC Prevention Research Centers.
The research team will gain access through existing and developing networks in small businesses and community settings (e.g., community organizations and centers, unions, clinics, and places of worship). The researchers will collaborate in the development of policy briefs, manuscripts, tools, guidance and other health products that can be implemented or used in workplaces and community settings. We will communicate progress and findings through meetings, publications, and new media forums.
These underserved worker populations are difficult to reach because of employment in contingent, temporary, and other insecure jobs, or jobs where they work for small businesses or conduct their work in isolation. In these scenarios, workers are exposed to health stressors, including rotating shifts, few breaks, high pressure, low control, hazardous conditions and materials, and power differentials that are associated with chronic diseases. Chronic diseases and behaviors that challenge health (e.g., limited physical activity, tobacco and alcohol use, poor nutrition) are inequitably distributed among socioeconomic groups. Workers in low socioeconomic groups have limited access to health care, medical insurance, and health promotion programming; they also have economic disincentives to take time off of work to address their health needs.
Our first year pilot project focuses on home care aides, who are typically middle-aged or older, low-income, ethnic minorities with limited education who help older and disabled adults with housekeeping and activities of daily living. Home care aids need health promotion and chronic disease prevention and management, yet their employers lack resources to provide it. Building on federally funded pilots, the first-year project addresses research questions that align the interests of employers and employees, focusing on a physical activity program built into the job to enhance physical activity in home care aides and their clients, and a fall-risk assessment in clients’ homes to improve safety for the aides and their clients.
Our activities will contribute to the development of a network research agenda and pilot projects to be implemented in collaboration with network partners for Years 2-5. With the growing strength of local and national partnerships, our projects will provide innovative solutions to difficult health problems among underserved workers.
The Illinois PRC is one of six Prevention Research Centers collaborating in the CDC's Workplace Health Research Network, coordinated by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill , and including PRCs at these universities:
Learn more about the Workplace Health Research Network at www.WorkHealthResearchNetwork.org .
This competitive supplement grant (SIP14-031) to the Illinois Prevention Research Center  supports the center’s collaboration in a CDC network of PRCs that study ways to improve the health of vulnerable populations in the workplace.
The award amount listed is an estimated projection based on the original notice of award.