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Factors contributing to occupational injuries in direct care workers

Tracy L Zontek, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Those who care for our most at-risk patients, the chronically ill, disabled, and elderly, find their jobs battering to the self-esteem, and battering to their health. Direct care workers (DCW) had the second largest number of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses involving days away from work in 2002 and higher injury rates than the construction industry have been documented. Despite training efforts to prevent predominantly musculoskeletal disorders, DCWs continue to be injured on the job. Additionally, DCWs are grouped together into occupational classifications despite different demographic and work characteristics. This study explored the following research questions: Does the proportion of occupational injuries differ between occupational classifications of DCWs employed in western North Carolina? How do organizational climate, job satisfaction, occupational stress, safety climate, training and demographic indices predict injuries for DCWs in western North Carolina? ^ In October 2005, a survey instrument was administered at the Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC) Nursing Assistant Training Day in Asheville, NC. Instrument scales included measures of organizational climate, job satisfaction, occupational stress, safety climate, training, and demographic indices. ^ Descriptive statistics were compiled to characterize the study population (n=105). The Spearman coefficient was used to determine correlations among variables. The chi-square statistic tested differences in the proportion of injury and near-miss between occupational classifications. Logistic regression was used to identify predictors of the dependent variable injury. ^ The results of this study indicated that there is a difference in the proportion of injuries between nursing aides and home health aides (χ 2=4.179, df=1, p=0.041). Tenure was significantly associated with the following variables: age (rs=0.446, p<0.01), training (r s=-0.201, p<0.05), satisfaction (rs=-0.284, p<0.01), organizational climate (rs=-0.330, p<0.01), stress (rs=-0.284, p<0.01) and safety training frequency (rs=0.215, p<0.05). Last, when tenure was greater than one year, job satisfaction (Exp(B)=0.048, p=0.028) was identified as a predictor and when tenure was greater than three years, both job satisfaction (Exp(B)=0.002, p=0.033) and training (Exp(B)=31.821, p=0.044) were significant predictors of injury. ^ The identification of tenure and job satisfaction in relation to occupational injuries of direct care workers are new and intriguing findings ripe for further exploration. ^

Subject Area

Health Sciences, Occupational Health and Safety|Health Sciences, Nursing|Health Sciences, Public Health|Education, Health

Recommended Citation

Zontek, Tracy L, "Factors contributing to occupational injuries in direct care workers" (2006). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3208077.