Pilot Projects

Through our Pilot Project Program, the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center, has supported external research in the areas of workplace safety and well-being. Until its final run this year, the Program had annually funded up to two pilot projects at $25,000 each for a one-year period.

Proposals to the Pilot Program have aligned with OHWC's theme and goals as a NIOSH Center of Excellence. Specifically, they encompass a Total Worker Health® perspective, addressing occupational health, safety, & personal well-being, and implementing intervention strategies for a healthier and safer workforce and organizational culture. In addition to a strong research design with a significant applied focus, proposals have addressed strategic goals in a NIOSH National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) sector area.

For a description of our funded pilot projects, see the drop down menu below. Please Note : OHWC's Pilot Project Program has ended, the 2015-2016 cycle being our final. We are no longer accepting applications to this Program. Should changes occur in the future, we will update this page. 

Tilikum pedestrian and public transit crossing bridge in Portland, Oregon

Mindfulness in Hospice Workers

Lorann Stallones, Ph.D. and Morgan Valley, MS, Colorado State University 

Feasibility of a Brief Mindfulness Intervention on Hospice Care Worker Safety and Well-being 

Background. Occupational injuries represent a significant public health problem, especially among health care workers, who face a high non-fatal occupational injury rate. Within this sector, hospice care workers, in particular, are exposed to hazards associated with in-home care in uncontrollable environments as well as the occupational stressors of caring for terminally ill patients and their families. The proposed pilot project aims to test the feasibility of a brief mindfulness intervention to improve safety performance and well-being among hospice workers. Mindfulness training has effectively improved well-being and decreased stress among health care workers (Irving, Dobkin & Park, 2009), and we have just begun to test its effect on healthcare worker safety. 

Methods: Hospice care workers from a hospice care organization based in Colorado will be recruited to participate in the study. The study will use a single-group pre-post design. The brief mindfulness intervention will consist of three intensive sessions during the participants' personal time over the course of one weekend followed by two at-work sessions including group discussion, gentle yoga, and meditation focusing on breathing. The program will train hospice care workers to incorporate mindfulness into their daily lives and workplace interactions with patients and colleagues. 

Implications: The study results will provide preliminary data required to design and conduct a large scale randomized controlled trial of intervention efficacy to further test the impact that brief mindfulness interventions can have on hospice worker stress, safety and well-being. The proposed pilot project aligns with the Total Worker Health approach to identify interventions that are practical and sustainable and address psychosocial factor associated with hospice care work while promoting overall worker well-being.

Lorann Stallones, PhD (PI)
Lorann Stallones, PhD (PI)

Nursing Students' 1st Entree into Clinical Rotations

 Patricia Butterfield, Ph.D. (PI)

Patricia Butterfield, Ph.D. (PI)

Initial Behaviors Addressing Shift Work, Sleep, and Safe Practice

Nursing students make an abrupt transition from traditional classes into clinical rotations and shift work.  Novice students enter clinical practice from their prerequisite classes, moving into a schedule that requires an additional 6-30 hours/week of clinical rotations in regional hospitals.  Students are assigned rotations on day, evening, or night shift.  Little is known about students' sleep, sleep disturbances, and safe practice behaviors during this critical and singular phase of professional development.  The purpose of this study is to describe students' sleep patterns and perceptions of safe practice during their first semester of evening clinical rotations.  Two complimentary approaches will inform this Total Worker Health (TWHTM) study: 1) measuring sleep and students' perceptions addressing safe practice, and 2) implementing Henning's participatory process for workplace health/safety interventions.

Total Worker Health among New Nurses

Janessa Graves, Ph.D. (PI)
Janessa Graves, Ph.D. (PI)

Janessa Graves, Ph.D. (PI)

An Instrument Development Study

Undergraduate, pre-licensure nurses train for a future in the healthcare workforce that presents a compendium of health risks. These include not only occupational injuries and illnesses, but also psychosocial stressors and challenges to work-life balance. This study will employ qualitative and quantitative approaches to investigate nurses' understanding of risks related to Total Worker Health (TWH™). Specifically, this pilot project will identify recently licensed nurse's understanding of risks associated with their employment, describe actual occupational health risks among RNs, and develop an instrument to measure TWH among recently graduated nurses.

Be Active, Work Safe: A Novel Program for People with a Disability

Laurel Kincl, PhD & Simon Driver, PhD (PIs) OHWC
Laurel Kincl, PhD & Simon Driver, PhD (PIs) OHWC

Laurel Kincl, Ph.D. and Simon Driver, Ph.D., PIs

Be Active, Work Safe: A Novel Program for People with a Disability

  • We developed a novel web-based intervention, "Be Active, Work Safe", that integrates basic occupational health and safety skills into an evidence-based physical activity health promotion model to improve the health and safety of workers with a disability.
  • We sought expert and consumer feedback in a systematic review on the intervention's accessibility and usability.
  • Challenges with recruitment of individuals with disability, the online delivery and the integration of health promotion and workplace health and safety were identified and documented. 

Research Question:  Can an online program be developed to integrate increasing physical activity and workplace safety knowledge be effective at changing behavior of individuals with disability?

Impact:  Individuals with disabilities face greater "life and job risks", increasing the need for health protection and promotion programs tailored for them which are goals of Healthy People 2020 and the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center.

Materials & technology examples:

Family-Supportive and Safety-Supportive Supervisor Behavior Training

Charlotte Fritz, Ph.D. (PI) and Leslie Hammer, Ph.D. (Co-Investigator), Portland State University

The purpose of this research is to conduct a trial of a family-supportive and safety-supportive supervisor behavior training to reduce employee stress, and increase employee work-life balance, well-being, and safety and health behaviors. The project builds directly on a previous collaborative project with the Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC) which included a survey study examining work stress, work-life balance, and well-being. Thus, our already ongoing research collaboration with the ODOC has provided us with extensive insights into work stress, and work-life balance in the corrections occupations and provides us with the necessary support and context to conduct the proposed study.

Specifically, our study adapts existing evidence-based training materials to the correctional setting and implements the training with supervisors in two correctional facilities in Oregon in a quasi-experimental design including an intervention facility and waitlist control facility. We chose two facilities that were similar in size, location, security level, and levels of supervisor support as well as work-family conflict. To conduct an initial evaluation of the training, we measure relevant variables (i.e., supervisory support, employee work-family conflict, well-being, and safety and health behaviors) one month before the supervisor training and three months after the training.

Our work is aimed at reducing work stress and work-family conflict, while promoting well-being and positive health behaviors (exercise, reduced smoking, enhanced sleep, etc.) in corrections personnel. Therefore, the supervisor training aims at protecting correction personnel health and safety long-term. As such, our project aligns with the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center’s mission for improving occupational health, worker safety, and personal wellness in the context of Total Worker HealthTM (TWH). The Primary Aim of this research study is to assess the effects of the supervisor training on employee well-being, work-life balance, and safety and health behaviors. A Secondary Aim is to modify and adapt the supervisor training for use in the correctional setting to prepare the training for use in a larger randomized control trial.

Based on Pilot Project funding provided through the OHWC (September 2013 to August 2014) we have adapted the existing supervisor training materials to the correctional setting, have conducted pre-training data collection (n=166 out of 613) in both facilities and have finished training supervisors (n=41 out of 48) in the intervention facility. We finished the post-training survey data collection and as well as the training for supervisors in the waitlist control facility. The ODOC leadership, the management in both participating facilities, and labor representatives strongly supported our project.

Based on the collected data we conducted a variety of analyses. The results were reported back to the ODOC as well as to the OHWC. Furthermore, we provided the ODOC with handouts that can be distributed to supervisors aiming at supporting their correctional officers around work-family and safety issues. As a next step, we presented the results of the project at the Work, Stress, & Health Conference in Atlanta in May 2015. We are now in the process of preparing a manuscript for publication in an academic journal.

Charlotte Fritz, PhD (PI)
Charlotte Fritz, PhD (PI)
 Leslie Hammer, PhD
Leslie Hammer, PhD (Co-I)
Family-Supportive and Safety-Supportive Supervisor Behavior Training in Corrections Personnel