Participatory survey design of a workforce health needs assessment for correctional supervisors

Source: Alicia G. Dugan, Sara Namazi, Jennifer M. Cavallari, Robert D. Rinker, Julius C. Preston, Vincent L. Steele, Martin G. Cherniack, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Volume 64 Issue 5, May 2021
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From the abstract:
The correctional workforce experiences persistent health problems, and interventions designed with worker participation show favorable outcomes. However, participatory intervention research often leaves workers out of the health needs assessment, the basis of interventions subsequently developed. This omission risks failure to detect factors contributing to the health and is less likely to result in primary prevention interventions.

Partnering with a correctional supervisors’ union, we followed Schulz and colleagues’ community‐based participatory research (CBPR) methods for participatory survey design and used Healthy Workplace Participatory Program (HWPP) tools to develop a tailored survey to assess workforce health and contributing factors. Utilizing the HWPP Focus Group Guide, we generated key themes to adapt the HWPP All Employee Survey, a generic workforce health assessment, to become thorough and contextually‐relevant for correctional supervisors.

Content analysis of focus group data revealed 12 priority health concerns and contributors, including organizational culture, masculinity, work‐family conflict, family support, trauma, positive job aspects, health literacy and efficacy, health/risk behaviors, sleep, obesity, and prioritizing work and income over health. Twenty‐six measures were added to the generic survey, mainly health‐related antecedents including knowledge, attitudes, norms, and motivation.

Findings yielded new insights about supervisors’ lived experiences of work and health, and resulted in a customized workforce survey. CBPR methods and HWPP tools allowed us to identify health issues that we would not have detected with conventional methods, and provide opportunities for interventions that address root causes of poor health. We share challenges faced and lessons learned using CBPR with the correctional workforce.