Ward, Linnan funded by NHLBI to improve health of child-care workers
Jan. 21, 2014
Two UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health researchers have received a five-year, $3.4 million grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, one of the National Institutes of Health, to test an intervention aimed at increasing child-care-givers’ levels of physical activity.
Co-principal investigators for the study are Dianne Ward, EdD, professor of nutrition and associate director of the Diet, Physical Activity and Body Composition Core at UNC’s Nutrition Obesity Research Center (NORC), and Laura Linnan, ScD, professor of health behavior and director of the Carolina Collaborative for Research on Work and Health at the Gillings School.
Approximately 1.3 million people in the U.S. are employed as child-care workers. Most are hourly employees classified as low-wage earners. In North Carolina, half of these workers are African-American or Hispanic.
People who work in lower-paying jobs without health insurance, such as child care workers, are at increased risk for many chronic diseases, including obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Physical activity can reduce risk for most of these conditions, but most low-income individuals and minorities do not meet recommendations for physical activity. The researchers will show that a multi-level, child care-based, worksite wellness intervention could be an effective strategy for reaching this high-risk population of low-wage workers. Improving workers’ health and physical activity levels not only directly benefits workers, but also enables them to become healthy role models for children in their care.
The study, to be conducted in 104 child-care centers, with four workers in each center, will test the efficacy of a six-month Care2bWell (CARE) intervention in increasing workers’ physical activity. The CARE intervention will provide participants with tailored feedback about their health risks and set behavioral goals, followed by three two-month-long wellness campaigns, during which workers monitor their activity levels, receive tailored feedback and compete in teams for prizes.
Center directors will take part in monthly webinars focused on improving the work environment to support physical activity and wellness.