External grants support range of Institute projects

New research at IWH explores violence prevention, risks of drug use, disclosure of needs and more

Published: May 4, 2017

As workplaces constantly evolve, new questions emerge about work-related injury and disability prevention. At the Institute for Work & Health (IWH), external grants play a big part in supporting research on these questions. The following are just a few examples of new projects under way, thanks to these grants.

Violence prevention in health care

Violence and aggression toward health-care workers has been recognized as a significant health and safety concern. Since 2010, legislation in Ontario has required employers to adopt measures to reduce the risk of workplace violence.

In a two-year study funded by the Ontario Ministry of Labour’s Applied Research Initiative, IWH Scientist Dr. Agnieszka Kosny is leading a team to examine the implementation of violence prevention policy at four to six acute-care hospitals.

Our goal is to examine the measures organizations use to address workplace violence and understand how they have played out in practice, says Kosny. We also want to identify the contextual factors that help or hinder implementation, and learn from stakeholders about challenges in preventing violence in this sector.

Risks associated with psychoactive drugs

Prescription opioids, sedatives for sleep disorders, medication to control anxiety, recreational cannabis and medical marijuana: these psychoactive drugs act on the central nervous system and can have adverse effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, and cognitive and psychomotor impairments such as decreased concentration and reaction time.

With the use of these substances on the rise, workplaces are concerned about the risk of workplace injury. In a systematic review funded by WorkSafeBC, IWH Post-Doctoral Fellow Nancy Carnide and Scientist Dr. Andrea Furlan are leading a team to synthesize the available research on certain central nervous system agents (as these drugs are known) and workplace injury and death.

To the extent that data is available, we’ll also look at the influence of specific characteristics of drug use, such as dose, duration and purpose of use, says Carnide. We also hope to tease out whether certain occupational or demographic groups experience higher risks than others.

Older workers and their communication of accommodation needs

Helping baby boomers stay in the workforce is an important strategy for supporting their financial security and maintaining labour force growth. However, there’s research suggesting that older workers are concerned about communicating their needs to others, says IWH Senior Scientist and Associate Research Director Dr. Monique Gignac. Disclosure can enable support and build intimacy and trust, but it may also lead to stigma, lost opportunities and even discrimination.

In a three-year project supported by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Insight Grant, Gignac is leading a team to study the relationships between disclosure, accommodation and work outcomes. She is interested in why older workers choose to communicate their needs for accommodation, support or training. She hopes to understand the factors that relate to disclosure, and the characteristics of disclosure that are linked with offers of support.