The Boston Hospital Workers Health Study, led by Prof. Sabbath, has been renewed for more years of funding. It is a study of 22,000-plus workers at two large hospitals within Mass General Brigham, a major health system and the largest employer in Massachusetts.
The goal of the newly funded phase of the study is to improve the health of the entire hospital workforce—not just bedside patient care providers—and reduce within-workforce disparities by identifying roots of those disparities in working conditions.
BHWHS is both a data-sharing and intellectual partnership between the study team and scholar-practitioners at Mass General Brigham.
BHWHS consists of multiple longitudinal sources of administrative data from the two study hospitals, linked at the worker level with survey data on emerging and established occupational exposures and experiences. BHWHS consists of 22,000 nurses and nursing assistants; during the proposed project period, we will expand the cohort to include nearly all workers at the two hospitals (n=40,000) to create a cohort that is more diverse by occupation, race, ethnicity, and wage level.
We will have a particular focus on low-wage workers during the study period, including nursing assistants, environmental services (cleaning), food services, and patient transport. We will then use that expanded study population to test two central hypotheses:
(a) that specific policies, working conditions, and exposures act as social determinants of health within the hospital work environment; and
(b) that policies aimed at improving working conditions have the potential to narrow or widen occupational, racial, and wage gaps in health within the hospital workforce.
The expected impact of this work is to broaden the scope of occupational health research and practice in hospitals by demonstrating the necessity of analyzing the contribution of working conditions and policies to disparities in health and well-being in the hospital workforce.