Applying the Healthy Workplace Participatory Program to Address Teacher Well-being: A Mixed-Methods Pilot Study
Co-Principal Investigators: Lisa Sanetti, Department of Educational Psychology and Alicia Dugan, Division of Occupational & Environmental Medicine at UConn Health.
Co-Investigator: Michele Femc-Bagwell, Department of Educational Leadership
Why this Study?
Teachers have the highest rate of stress among occupations. Stressed teachers are absent more often; have poorer relationships with their students; and are less effective delivering instruction and managing student behavior. Chronic teacher stress is the #1 reason teachers leave the profession other than retirement.
“There is a critical need to address educator health and well-being, says Lisa Sanetti, Co-PI. “It is in the best interest of students, teachers, families, and communities across the country.”
Implementing a workplace health program in public schools
The Healthy Workplace Participatory Program (HWPP) is a participatory occupational health-focused process designed by the Center for the Promotion of Health in the New England Workplace to address “health concerns such as stress and chronic diseases, previously considered separate from the workplace.”
How it works
The study was the first to pilot the HWPP in a school setting. It was completed in 4 steps:
1. Educators participated in focus groups and completed a survey about work and non-work factors that influence their health and wellbeing.
2. A team of educators reviewed the data, completed a structured process for identifying the top concern and its causes, and proposed solutions.
3. A team of administrators and pupil services professionals adopted and implemented solutions.
4. The implementation and effectiveness of the solutions were evaluated through surveys and focus groups.
How it’s going so far
The pilot was completed in the 2018-2019 academic year. Educators rated the HWPP as acceptable and feasible, but noted adaptations are necessary for sustainability.
Next Steps for Research
The project team is interested in developing a multi-tiered model of educator well-being support that incorporates, but is not limited to the Healthy Workplace Participatory Program. Dr. Sanetti has applied for funding to complete a stakeholder-driven adaptation of the HWPP to better align with the school context.
“I am really excited to partner with experts in occupational health to adapt effective practices to the school context so we can support teachers’ health and well-being more efficiently and effectively,” says Dr. Sanetti.