Identifying the Barriers and Facilitators to Frontline Worker Participation in Workplace Health Research

Friday, 11 July 2008: 10:40 AM
Leah Thomas-Olson, BKin , Workplace Health, Fraser Health, Surrey, BC, Canada
Waqar A. Mughal, BSc, MSc , Workplace Health, Safety & Wellness, Calgary Health Region, Calgary, AB, Canada

Learning Objective 1: identify barriers and facilitators to frontline worker participation in workplace health research.

Learning Objective 2: gain some insight into improving the participation/return rate from frontline staff when conducting research in the workplace.

The significance of maximizing the participation of workers in evaluations and research activities allows for the integration of their knowledge, concerns and needs into the intervention or project, providing better analysis of the work situation and improvements upon work practices and conditions (Mergler, 1987). This integration has been deemed an integral part of improving working conditions and the health and safety of workers (Mergler, 1987). The challenge of maximizing participation rates in occupational health and safety research has been noted in the literature (LaMontagne & Needleman, 1996), however literature focusing on the specific area of research participation among healthcare workers is limited; what is available focuses primarily on the use of research findings in changing nursing practice (Pettengill et al, 1994; Wells & Baggs, 1994; Taylor & Mitchell, 1990).

The Workplace Health department in Fraser Health conducts program evaluations and research studies that involve the collection of subjective data from frontline staff in order to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions delivered to care areas and work groups. Ensuring adequate representation from frontline staff is critical to allow reliable conclusions to be drawn regarding program or intervention effectiveness. Participation rates among frontline workers for these evaluations have been low, regardless of the data collection method employed. Given this experience, and the paucity of information available in the literature, it is essential to explore and understand the frontline workers' willingness to participate in workplace-based research.

This research project involves a participatory action research methodology involving two groups of workers from acute care and extended care environments. Focus groups were held to discuss how they perceive research, particularly occupational health and safety research, and to identify and explore the perceived barriers and facilitators to their ability or willingness to participate in such research. Findings from the thematic analysis will be presented.