THE HEALTH AND WORK QUESTIONNAIRE (HWQ): AN INSTRUMENT FOR ASSESSING WORKPLACE PRODUCTIVITY IN RELATION TO WORKER HEALTH

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE: Recently, interest has increased in productivity loss associated with medical conditions or health behaviors that do not preclude attendance at work (e.g., migraine, smoking). Commonly, productivity loss is subjectively assessed (asking workers directly to report on the productivity impacts of their medical conditions or health behaviors) which may be problematic because certain illnesses or health behaviors are viewed as socially undesirable. We describe the initial validation of a new instrument, the Health and Work Questionnaire (HWQ) that can be used in studies of worker health and productivity. METHOD: The HWQ consists of 24 items assessing work quality, quantity, efficiency, and related factors. To minimize “social desirability” tendencies on the part of respondents, they are asked to rate their work quality, quantity, and efficiency from their supervisor's and their co-worker's perspectives as well as their own. All items have ten-point response scales. The initial questionnaire was pretested by 30 subjects. Based on subject feedback, no wording changes were deemed necessary. The HWQ was administered to 294 employees of a major US airline and was completed at baseline and at three subsequent monthly intervals. Validation included comparisons with two objective productivity measures collected by the airline: Time Lost, the average time a reservation agent is unavailable between calls; and Total Performance Points, the performance measure used for quarterly employee evaluation. RESULTS: Six subscales were identified by factor analyses: productivity, concentration/focus, supervisor relations, impatience/irritability, work satisfaction, and non-work satisfaction. Internal consistency reliability values were high for all scales (0.84–0.96), with the exception of impatience/irritability, displaying adequate reliability (0.72). All HWQ scale scores correlated significantly with the Time Lost measure; two scales correlated significantly with the performance measure. The significant correlations were all modest (0.12 to 0.22). CONCLUSIONS: With other measures, the HWQ may be a useful instrument in assessing group differences and evaluating the impact of health interventions on work-place productivity.

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