Our academic partners are actively involved in numerous research projects related to work and health. Read on to learn more about current and recent projects.
The Workplace Health Research Network
The Workplace Health Research Network (WHRN) seeks to engage employers, employees and communities to advance knowledge and implement effective, comprehensive and integrated approaches to promote and protect worker health, safety and well-being. The types of approaches supported by the WHRN include research on environmental, policy, and systems interventions; and behavioral aspects contributing to individual employee health. A key focus is integrated, multi-component interventions that address multiple health risks and concerns in various worksite settings, sectors, and sizes. Read more.
Caring and Reaching for Health
Caring and Reaching for Health (CARE) is a research study evaluating new worksite wellness programs designed specifically for child care centers and their staff focused on improving physical, mental, emotional, and/or financial health. The study has recruited 74 child care centers and over 700 child care staff (~9 staff per center) from across North Carolina to participate in this study. Centers either receive the Healthy Lifestyles program or the Healthy Finances program. The programs last six months. Read more.
Exploring Child Care Workers’ Spatial Access to Food Outlets and Physical Activity Opportunities and Health Behaviors
This project supplements the efforts of the Caring and Reaching for Health (CARE) study. Under the guidance of Drs. Laura Linnan and Dianne Ward (CARE Co-PIs) and the research team, Gabriela Arandia, PhD Candidate in Health Behavior, is studying the relationship between built physical activity and food environments surrounding child care centers, and baseline child care worker physical activity, dietary intake, and body mass index. This study ultimately seeks to understand how density and proximity of recreational facilities and food outlets surrounding child care centers, and distance from their personal residences, impact health outcomes. Her dissertation delves further into understanding child care workers’ spatial access to supermarkets/grocery stores, convenience stores, and fast food restaurants around workers’ home, work, along commutes, and how these food exposures impact their eating habits. This research makes an important and unique contribution to the intervention study, and field of worksite wellness.
Workplace Health in America
CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion awarded RTI International and partner, the University of North Carolina, a three year contract (Oct 2014 through Sep 2017) to survey the health promotion and protection programs and practices in U.S. employers of all sizes, industries and regions. Although a number of surveys of workplace health promotion programs have been conducted over the past 25 years, this study will build an infrastructure to support ongoing surveillance to evaluate national workplace health priorities (e.g., Healthy People), monitor trends, and address emerging issues. It will also provide free and accessible benchmarking data for employers and other stakeholders in workplace health promotion and protection. Read more.
Capturing Healthy Options at Work
This study is examining the effect of labeling food with physical activity calorie expenditure (PACE) information as opposed to standard calorie information and see if PACE labeling will lead to lower calorie food purchasing. In a partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Chapel Hill, Durham and Winston Salem, the UNC research team collected information on calories purchased and gym use at each of the worksite cafeterias. The study was designed as a three-group interrupted time-series controlled trial to assess the effects of PACE labels on food choices and physical activity behaviors. Additionally, a smaller cohort of participants was be tracked to garner individual-level information.
Capturing Healthy Options at Work: Doctoral Research
Health Behavior PhD Candidate Michael Close is using data from the Capturing Healthy Options at Work trial to provide actionable insights to workplace health promotion practitioners interested in enhancing levels of physical activity among office workers. The research will identify segments of office workers by types of activity behaviors and examine how those segments may differ by demographic characteristics, objectively-measured levels of physical activity per week, and body mass index. Information on segment composition will aid practitioners in program development and resource allocation.
McDowell County Worksite Wellness Project
Beginning in 2014, a research team lead by Dr. Laura Linnan, Professor, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and Director, Carolina Collaborative for Research on Work and Health, was awarded a contract from the McDowell County Health Care Coalition to: 1) clarify best practices and trends for workplace health and safety; 2) assess current attitudes, status, and interests of McDowell County employers and employees regarding workplace health and safety; and, 3) summarize results and offer recommendations that could assist McDowell County in planning next steps.
The team worked in collaboration with McDowell County stakeholders to design, promote, and deploy a survey of all employers in McDowell County; followed by in-depth interviews with a smaller convenience sample of employers and employees. Twenty-seven percent of eligible employers (n=84) completed the survey, and 19 employers plus 74 employees participated in the in-depth interviews. Together, the data and an extensive review of the literature was used to prepare a report and offer recommendations on efforts to improve worker and workplace health that benefits all McDowell County residents.