HHOME Study: Home Health Occupations Musculoskeletal Examinations

HHOME Pilot Study: Home Health Occupations Musculoskeletal Examinations

Description: The Home Health Occupations Musculoskeletal Examinations (or HHOME) research pilot study is designed to survey minority Massachusetts Home Health Aides, Personal Care Attendants, Homemakers, and other health workers who visit their clients at home. Using a combination of quantitative and qualitative research methods, we will investigate muscular and skeletal pain in the home health workforce, as well as workplace factors that may cause musculoskeletal disorders. While the main focus is on musculoskeletal disorders, we are also interested in other workplace-related health risks these low-wage workers face, such as smoking, sharps-related incidents, and patient violence.

The HHOME Study consists of two parts. The first part is a series of key informant interviews and focus groups where a small number (8-12) of home health workers and key Home Health Aide Agency personal are invited to fill out a short demographics survey and participate in a recorded group discussion. The second part of the HHOME pilot study is a longer survey distributed to a larger population of Home Health Aides. This survey’s questions will be based off of what we learn from the focus groups in terms of health-related workplace issues.

Our long-term goal for this pilot project is to discover which, if any, workplace-related activities and factors place home health workers’ at risk for physical and mental workplace hazards, and to try to identify and prioritize ways to improve workplace health and safety.

If you are a home health worker, or home health agency interested in participating in our study, please contact our research assistant, Stephen Marvel-Coen (information can be found below).


About Home Health Aides: As the elderly population in the United States continues to grow, more and more people are choosing to remain at home rather than entering a nursing home or hospice care. The result of this has been a massive growth in the home care industry. According to the United States Department of Labor, the Personal Care Aide and Home Health Aide workforce is projected to grow by 48% (insert link to http://www.bls.gov/news.release/ecopro.t04.htm here). This rapidly growing occupation regularly places workers under physical and mental stress, and it is important to see what kinds of effects, both short term and long term, these stresses have on workers. With continued research on home health workers, hopefully we can provide a healthier, safer work environment for current and future workers as the profession continues to grow.

Project Study Period: October 2013 – September 2014

Funding: The HHOME pilot study is supported by funding from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Harvard Education and Research Center Small Grants Program T42-OH008416 (PI: Dr. David Christiani), NIOSH Grant K01-OH010485 (PI: Dr. Alberto Caban-Martinez), and the Harvard School of Public Health Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety Postdoctoral Research Fellowship program (Trainee: Dr. Lauren A. Murphy). The authors would like to acknowledge and thank our New England Home Health Agency partners and their Home Health Aide workers for their time and participation in this pilot study.

For Home Health Agencies: If you are interested in participating in our study, please download the attached document, which provides a more in-depth overview of what our study consists of:  HHOME Overview Page.

For Home Health Aides: If you are interested in taking a brief anonymous survey about your job please contact Stephen Marvel-Coen at smarvelc@hsph.harvard.edu or (617) 384-8768.