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April 15, 2021
NIOSH releases worker wellness questionnaire

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) released a Worker Well-Being Questionnaire (WellBQ) designed to measure worker well-being. The freely available survey instrument is intended to help employers, policymakers, wellness practitioners and researchers, and workers themselves understand workers’ well-being and target interventions to improve it. The questionnaire can be completed in approximately 15 minutes, according to NIOSH.

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The institute has long been interested in the interaction between occupational and nonoccupational health factors, developing and promoting the Total Worker Health (TWH) approach.

“Worker well-being is an unifying concept that characterizes quality of life with respect to a person’s working conditions, circumstances outside of work, and physical and mental health status,” NIOSH Director John Howard, MD, said in an agency statement.

“NIOSH is excited to offer this new tool that anyone can use to evaluate worker well-being in order to help identify opportunities to advance worker well-being through workplace policies, programs, and practices.”

Employers and corporate decision-makers, as well as worker health and wellness professionals, could use the WellBQ to gather findings that might inform decisions about advancing worker well-being either across an entire unit or among various subpopulations determined by demographics or occupation, according to the institute.

A worker well-being framework developed by NIOSH and the RAND Corporation looks at five domains of worker well-being: work evaluation and experience; workplace policies and culture; workplace physical environment and safety culture; health status; and home, community, and society.

RAND conducted an in-depth, multidisciplinary literature review of well-being measurement tools, research, and theories to develop the framework.

Conditions of interest and the types of questions to pose about workers’ conditions were identified with the help of a scientific panel with expertise in both occupational safety and health and wellness.

Items in the questionnaire were selected based on their relevance to the domains of worker well-being. Most items are adopted from existing survey instruments. A draft questionnaire was created, then cognitive testing was conducted on a sample of workers. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) granted approval to field-test the draft questionnaire. Participants in the field test completed the draft questionnaire in approximately 20 minutes.

Data from field test respondents then were analyzed to create multiquestion scales, conduct factor analysis and other psychometric testing, conduct tests of validity, and eliminate less productive survey items. Some items on the questionnaire were revised to improve clarity, and a few items were eliminated from the tool before it reached its final form.

NIOSH officials have also developed a number of TWH resources for designing workplace interventions based on survey results. Resources include ones designed for supervisors and coworkers such as a toolkit for supervisor and team training; TWH leadership resources; tipsheets for encouraging employee input; and the Society for Human Resource Management’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion tools and recommendations for creating work environments that recognize the benefits of having a diverse and inclusive workforce.

The WellBQ resources also include a webinar series about nonstandard work arrangements and wellness resources from the American Heart Association and American Psychiatric Association.

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