Use epidemiological concepts to determine the health status of populations

Scenario

You are the health officer in a medium-sized office environment. The organization is comprised of 65 employees, who all work full-time in the building. The ages of the employees range from 32 to 61; 40% of the employees are female, and 60% are male. The office was built within the last 10 years and is in compliance with all building codes. The organization has a traditional office environment: Each employee has an office that includes a desk, chairs, and two computer screens. The building has three floors, with elevator access to each floor, and each floor has two restrooms and one kitchenette with a fridge, microwave, and coffeemaker. There is limited window access, as the building abuts another building. The office building is located on the outskirts of a larger city, so there is limited access to lunch options, with the exception of a couple of fast-food restaurants and a convenience store.

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During the past year, the company has experienced high turnover, with 13 employees leaving. The leadership team of the organization is concerned about this development and would like to learn more about some of the factors that might have influenced it. To provide additional insights, they have asked you to develop a preliminary plan for how the organization would evaluate the overall health of the workplace. At this point, you have been asked to provide high-level information, and the leadership team will use the information to inform future planning. You will need to consider the physical workplace in terms of resources in the building for breaks, in addition to accessible outside spaces, as well as the social factors of the workplace. For example, are coworkers congenial about sharing break time to chat socially and walk together on available outside paths, or is it a more solitary, desk-focused work environment?

 

Directions

Your leadership team has asked you to develop a workplace health assessment plan, and they have provided you with some specific details about the office. You may add additional details to further flesh out the workplace environment, as appropriate for your plan. For example, you may choose to add that the workplace has an on-site gym or multiple walking trails nearby. In addition, you may wish to specify that the workplace provides two weeks of paid of paternity leave or is flexible with break time if it is used for exercise, as opposed to just meals.

Specifically, you must address the following:

  • Based on a preliminary study of the organization’s workplace health, the leadership team discovered that more than half of the employees smoke tobacco throughout the workday. They found this number concerning and have asked that you provide some insight on this. Specifically, they would like you to address the following:
    • Describe the incidence, prevalence, mortality, and morbidity of tobacco use across the United States. Note that you do not need to actually calculate these figures, as epidemiologists have already completed this task. Instead, you will use reliable and credible sources that have interpreted population data to inform your plan.
    • Describe how the data on tobacco use across the United States compares with the data available on tobacco use in the workplace, and indicate whether or not tobacco use should be a concern for the employer. In this example, consider disease causation and association, along with behavioral factors.
  • In addition to tobacco use, the leadership team has asked that you identify two additional examples of items of concern, which may be negatively impacting workplace health at the organization. Then, they would like you to specifically address the following for both:
    • Explain how to determine the incidence and prevalence of the identified concerns in the workplace, and explain how this data will provide insight into the overall health of the workplace. Consider the intersections between your two examples and the overall health of the workplace; for example, you already considered the behavioral components of smoking within a population (the workplace, in this case).
    • Explain how to determine the mortality and morbidity of the identified concerns in the workplace, and explain how this data will provide insight into the overall health of the workplace. Note that when discussing mortality and morbidity here, the leadership team has asked that you do so in terms of employment—that is, with regard to the health of the workplace in the broadest sense.
  • Explain how you will use the data collected on the health concerns to ultimately promote workplace health.
  • Your leadership team has asked that you develop the workplace health assessment plan to be focused on the current office environment, but they have also considered moving the office and acquiring a larger company. They are therefore curious how the plan might be different if the type of environment changed. To address their question, explain how changes to the office environment might impact workplace health, using at least two discrete examples. For example, what impact might a different location, or a more or less diverse population, have on workplace health? Is physical relocation and/or acquisition and merger a concern for mortality and morbidity of employees?

What to Submit

Workplace Health Assessment Plan
You are the health officer in a medium-sized office environment. During the past year, the company has experienced high turnover, and the leadership team is concerned and would like to learn more about some factors that might have played a role. To provide additional insight, they have asked that you develop a workplace health assessment plan. This plan will provide high-level information, and the leadership team will use the information to inform future planning. Your plan must be 500 to 1,000 words in length and cite any references.

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