Communities of Practice in Home Care Workers Share This OHSU Content

COMPASS Study graphicCreating health and safety “Communities of Practice” for Home Care Workers
Ryan Olson, PhD (PI)

Home care workers have an injury rate that is nearly four times higher than the US average and are at elevated risk for mental and physical health problems.

These low-income workers, who are predominantly female and older than 40, assist the elderly and disabled with self-care and mobility in private homes. Although interventions developed for other caregiver populations improve well-being and knowledge, they have largely failed to address illness and injury prevention behaviors. No prior study has addressed the lack of occupational social support structures for home care workers.

Our long-term goal is to create a model work structure for promoting and protecting home care worker health that can be disseminated to other states. The goal of this proposal is to develop and evaluate a new team-based intervention for self-employed home care workers enrolled in Oregon public programs.

Our approach will be to organize workers into neighborhood-based WorkLife teams that meet regularly for education and social support. Our proposed curriculum will integrate health promotion and protection topics, and will use our established team-based education methods as well as proven elements of social support groups for caregivers.

Our primary hypotheses are that organizing home care workers into WorkLife teams will increase (1) experienced community of practice, (2) well-being, and (3) prevention behaviors in the domains of diet, exercise, and safety. To test our hypotheses we will conduct a cluster randomized controlled trial of the intervention in 16 neighborhood clusters with 160 total participants.

The project will take place over three years and accomplish three specific aims: (1) Develop and Pilot Test a WorkLife Team Curriculum for Home Care Workers; (2) Determine the Effectiveness of WorkLife Teams with a Randomized Controlled Trial; and (3) Measure the Integrity of Sustained WorkLife Team Meetings and Maintenance at Follow-Up.


  • Home care workers have an injury rate that is nearly four times higher than the average for all US occupations, and have an elevated risk of mental and physical health problems.
  • The current project will develop and evaluate a team-based work structure intervention to promote and protect the health of home care workers.
  • Findings will benefit the health and safety of over 2.7 million home care workers in the US.