Characterizing the nature of home care work and occupational hazards: a developmental intervention study

Am J Ind Med. 2014 Apr;57(4):445-57. doi: 10.1002/ajim.22287. Epub 2013 Dec 17.


Background: Home care (HC) aide is the fastest growing occupation, yet job hazards are under-studied. This study documents the context of HC aide work, characterizes occupational safety and health (OSH) hazards, and identifies preventive interventions using qualitative methods.

Methods: We conducted 12 focus groups among aides and 26 in-depth interviews comprising 15 HC agency, union, and insurance company representatives as well as 11 HC recipients in Massachusetts. All focus groups and interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, and coded with NVIVO software.

Results: Major OSH concerns were musculoskeletal disorders from client care tasks and verbal abuse. Performing tasks beyond specified job duties may be an OSH risk factor. HC aides' safety and clients' safety are closely linked. Client handling devices, client evaluation, care plan development, and training are key interventions for both aides' and clients' safety.

Conclusions: Promoting OSH in HC is essential for maintaining a viable workforce.

Keywords: home care; home care aides; home healthcare; occupational safety and health; patient safety; preventive interventions; worker safety.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Home Care Services*
  • Home Health Aides*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Massachusetts
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases
  • Occupational Diseases*
  • Occupational Health
  • Occupational Injuries*
  • Risk Factors
  • Stress, Psychological*
  • Workplace Violence