Studying the health care workers: A program of research on the relationships between work and health

The face of health care and the working environment for health care workers in Canada is changing, bringing increasing job complexity, an aging work force, changes in the delivery of patient care, and concerns for employee recruitment and retention. These changes have been coupled with cost containment strategies – such as restructuring – that alter the resources that staff have available to do their work. Dr. Mieke Koehoorn’s research focuses on how the work environment affects the health and well-being of health care workers in BC. She is using the BC Linked Health Database in conjunction with hospital employee and survey data to create a comprehensive population-based, person-specific, longitudinal database of health care workers. The database, recording information such as health care utilization, workers’ compensation and long-term disability records, is unique in its depth and breadth. Dr. Koehoorn is using this information to describe the health and health care utilization of health care workers and investigate the workplace practices and conditions that predict health outcomes. By understanding the complex determinants of health for health care workers, Dr. Koehoorn hopes to help inform industry decision-makers to allocate resources and implement workplace policies and procedures that improve employee health and performance and reduce work-related disability.