Dr. Leslie Hammer has recently been awarded a Department of Defense grant to develop and deliver a Total Worker Health® (TWH) intervention to improve the safety, health, and well-being of service members in the Oregon National Guard, as well as their families. According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), TWH® is defined as policies, programs, and practices that integrate protection from work-related safety and health hazards with promotion of injury and illness prevention efforts to advance worker well-being.
Toward these aims, the Oregon Military Employee Sleep and Health (MESH) study will 1) train supervisors to support service members in their units around work-life stress and sleep health and 2) promote sleep health via sleep monitoring and individual feedback.
Workplace strain has been estimated to cost up to $190 billion in annual U.S. healthcare expenses, while one of the biggest stress factors – work-life stress – can cost up to $24 billion. Additionally, common sleep disorders have been estimated to cost the U.S. workforce more than $200 billion a year,3.
Dr. Hammer and her team believe that these adverse workplace health factors have just as big an impact on service members, and the military as a whole, as they do on the private sector. Partnering with the Oregon National Guard, the MESH study team proposes that leadership can influence a foundational change in the recognition of work-life balance, sleep health, and overall well-being amongst service members and their families. With the support of the Oregon National Guard, the MESH study will provide family-supportive and sleep leadership training for all participating supervisors; and raise service members’ awareness of their own sleep health through providing individual feedback on their daily activity and sleep quantity/quality.
Dr. Hammer and her team expect positive personal and organizational effects from this study, including reduced stress and increased social support for service members. Longer term, these effects are anticipated to create an overall more supportive work environment, which will benefit the safety, health, well-being, family processes, and organizational outcomes for all service members involved.
Goh, J., Pfeffer, J., & Zenios, S. A. (2015). The relationship between workplace stressors and mortality and health costs in the United States. Management Science, 62, 608-628.
American Academy of Sleep Medicine (2016). Hidden health crisis costing America billions. Retrieved from http://www.aasmnet.org/Resources/pdf/sleep-apnea-economic-crisis.pdf
3Kessler, R. C., Berglund, P. A., Coulouvrat, C., Hajak, G., Roth, T., Shahly, V., … & Walsh, J. K. (2011). Insomnia and the performance of US workers: Results from the America Insomnia Survey. Sleep, 34, 1161-1171.
Submitted by: Janelle Cheung, Postdoctoral Researcher, Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences, OHSU