BACKGROUND: Despite numerous initiatives to improve the working environment for nursing aides, musculoskeletal disorders (pain) is still a considerable problem because of the prevalence, and pervasive consequences on the individual, the workplace and the society. Discrepancies between effort and effect of workplace health initiatives might be due to the fact that pain and the consequences of pain are affected by various individual, interpersonal and organizational factors in a complex interaction. Recent health literacy models pursue an integrated approach to understanding health behavior and have been suggested as a suitable framework for addressing individual, organizational and interpersonal factors concomitantly. Therefore, the aim of the trial is to examine the effectiveness of an intervention to improve health literacy (building knowledge, competences and structures for communication and action) at both the organizational and individual level and reduce pain among nursing aides.
METHODS/DESIGN: The intervention consists of 2 steps: 1) Courses at the workplace for employees and management in order to organize a joint fundament of knowledge and understanding, and a platform for communication and action about pain prevention in the organization. 2) Organizing a fixed 3-weekly structured dialogue between each employee and her/his supervisor, with particular focus on developing specific plans to prevent and reduce pain and its consequences. This enables the workplace to generate knowledge about employee resources and health challenges and to act and convey this knowledge into initiatives at the workplace.
DISCUSSION: Previous studies to improve health literacy have primarily targeted patients or specific deprived groups in health care or community settings. Recently the idea of the workplace as an arena for improving health literacy has developed emphasizing the organizational responsibility in facilitating and supporting that employees obtain basic knowledge and information needed to understand and take action on individual and occupational health concerns. The literature about workplace health literacy is very limited but points at the importance of educating employees to be able to access, appraise and apply health information and of organizing the infrastructure and communication in the organization. This study suggests a concrete operationalization of health literacy in a workplace setting. Results are expected published in 2016.