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Effect Modifier Assessment in intervention research by the EMA method - a variant of Chronicle Workshop

Conference contribution
Authors Kasper Edwards
Jörgen Winkel
Published in Proceedings of the 20th Congress of the International Ergonomics Association (IEA) 2018
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Sociology and Work Science
Language en
Keywords Production Ergonomics, Intervention Research, Methods, Organizational Sustainability, Musculoskeletal, Mental
Subject categories Work Sciences, Applied Psychology, Environmental Health and Occupational Health, Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics

Abstract

A Chronicle Workshop (CW) is a participatory method for collecting information regarding defined events during a defined time period of an organization. The CW intends to facilitate a group-based process centered around their shared history. Occupational intervention research investigates whether defined changes at worksites have the desired positive work environment outcomes. However, the outcome may be affected also by other events not part of the investigated interventions, i.e. modifiers. Consequently, we developed a new method for effect modifier assessment (the EMA method) in ergonomic intervention studies including significant elements of the CW (Edwards and Winkel, conditionally accepted). This paper presents the method and includes preliminary examinations of its applicability in intervention case studies at Danish workplaces. Methodology: The EMA method estimates both modifier and intervention events and their impact on the investigated outcome(s). It is, as the CW method, using a type of group interview with 3-6 employees representing the occupational groups in the investigated organization. With reference to the investigated period they are asked to recall important changes/events in and around the organization; 1) in general, 2) regarding work processes and equipment and 3) regarding their work environment. The three levels form a funnel going from general to specific events. In each step the participants write their individual answer on post-it notes, which are then discussed in plenum, one at a time, and placed on a timeline. All identified events are assessed for being caused by either the investigated intervention(s) or other causes (“the effect modifiers”) and their impact on the outcomes. These assessments are thereafter validated by triangulation, entered into a database and analyzed. The EMA method has been tested in 51 workshops and some results are presented below. Results and Discussion: Industry Workshops Intervention Modifiers Bed wards 6 Ergonomic Value stream mapping Significant changes in the wards modify intervention effect. Mixed wards 13 Relational coordination as a change approach. Low compliance to intervention. Surgical ward 6 Lean project to improve performance and well-being. Poor leadership, managers not following rules. Merger caused collaboration problems. Industry 3 Agile State-Gate development in mid-sized hardware companies Method assumptions and procedures not met. Banking 23 Natural experiment - Investigating social capital and performance Performance management influence collaboration negatively. Total 51 The 51 workshops were performed as integrated parts of our development of the final version of the EMA method. Thus, not all the workshops have followed the instructions of the final version of the EMA method. Limitations: The event assessments and their impact are based on the participants’ subjective perceptions. A key issue is therefore the validity of these assessments. This may partly be reduced by the suggested triangulation. Further validations, such as inter-method reliability tests, are needed.

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