Health promotion in the workplace: the perspective of unskilled workers in a hospital setting
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CitationScand J Caring Sci 2003, 17(1):66-73
AbstractIt is important to explore the potential for health promotion from the perspective of participants in a particular situation. This study focuses on experiences of well-being and the potential for health promotion among unskilled workers in the kitchen and laundry room in an acute care hospital in Iceland. These experiences are analysed in light of the material and structural factors that shape working conditions. The research method used was grounded theory. The data were formal and informal interviews, and participant observation. The findings revealed considerable differences between the two work groups. At both sites strain on the body, caused by excessive noise, heavy lifting and uncomfortable working arrangements, were identified. Similarly, the work was often experienced as monotonous and demanding. Human relations were identified as a key factor in ameliorating the conditions that led to experiences of strain by the workers at both work sites. This was however where the two work places differed. In the laundry room, the workers felt respected and acknowledged by their coworkers and managers. Belonging to the work group was important and they felt listened to by the supervisor. Very little cohesiveness was observed among the workers in the kitchen. The managers seemed to be absent from the floor, workers were divided into work groups that sometimes showed antagonism towards each other and few channels were available for complaints and suggestions for improvement. The workers in the laundry room, on the other hand, related positive experiences of work. They felt that steps were taken by managers to improve working conditions to the extent possible and participated in those attempts by bringing up suggestions, implementing change and developing their own ways of coping with the work. This study gives important directions for health promotion in the workplace, emphasizing human relations at work, rather than individual health behaviour away from the work setting.
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