Applicability of the Integrative Workplace Health Management (IWHM) Model in Taiwan

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Chu, Cordia
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Hulsman, Kees
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Over the past three decades, globalisation and rapid technological advances have fundamentally changed socio-economic structure and have widespread impacts on the nature of work and workplace health (U. Beck, 2000; Bertucci & Alberti, 2004; Bhalla, 1996; Chu & Dwyer, 2002). They have led to fierce global competition, altered the nature of work and exposed employees to new health risks (Chu & Dwyer, 2002; Stitzel & Jarvisalo, 1997). Fierce market competition demands enterprises and industries to build new competencies, restructure and improve productivity and efficiency. Associated with these changes are increased work pressures, weakening commitment to occupational health and safety, and many negative impacts on workers’ health (G. Breucker, 2006; Missler & Theuringer, 2003; WHO, 2003). Evidence shows that the world is facing growing burden of work related fatalities, injuries and diseases, particularly a dramatic increase of work stress. As part of the global community, Taiwan has also encountered similar workplace challenges in the rapidly changing environment. It also has to confront with increasing costs from the burden of work-related injuries and diseases and to find appropriate ways to deal with the serious problems (Council of Labour Affairs Taiwan, 2003, 3005; IOSH, 2002). As the success of organisations relies on having well-qualified, motivated and healthy employees, it is essential to seek effective means to protect and promote the health of the working population (ENWHP, 2005). The integrative workplace health promotion (IWHM) model emerging in the 1990s, is regarded as a comprehensive means to address multiple determinants of health and promote employee health (G. Breucker, 2006; Chu, 2003b; WHO-WPRO, 1999). There have been a great number of international successful examples demonstrating the benefits from implementing the IWHM programs (ENWHP, 2002; Chu, Breucker, Harris, & et al., 2000). In response to these workplace challenges and new occupational health risks, Taiwan has followed the international trend to initiate a series of workplace health promotion (WHP) programs since 2001 (Bureau of Health Promotion Taiwan, 2006). However, a preliminary study revealed that many WHP projects in Taiwan have met with difficulties in encouraging employee participation and sustainable development of the programs. These results were not surprising as the majority of the WHP programs in Taiwan tended to narrowly focused on physical activities, weight control and smoking cessation, while ignoring employee needs and problems relevant to specific workplace concerns (Bureau of Health Promotion, 2003; Hsu, Chang, Peng, & Chen, 2002; Hsu, Chen, & Wu, 2004). In this regard, the comprehensive IWHM which aims to meet employee health needs and improve organisational environment may present an effective means for Taiwan to address complex workplace health issues and to create healthy and sustainable workplaces. This research aims to investigate the applicability of the IWHM model in Taiwan to deal with workplace health problems. Apart from reviewing literature and relevant case studies from international communities and in Taiwan, this study conducted a small scale pilot study and a comprehensive needs assessment at selected workplaces in Taiwan as an experiment to test the applicability of the IWHM model. In practice, this research project targeted the civil servants working at the Liming governmental community in Taichung, Taiwan as the research subject. It involves a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods for data collection and analysis. A variety of data collection techniques including in-depth interviews, focus groups, participant observations, secondary data analysis and questionnaire surveys are used to investigate the workplace health and safety problems and the staff’s health needs. A triangulation technique is used to compare and contrast the different sources of information. The findings indicated that the IWHM model is applicable in the Liming community in terms of feasible methodological approaches using a needs-based program development and implementation process, and positive program outcomes such as stair improvement to prevent falls and the establishment of long-term health management, meaningful participation, practical program activities and holistic evaluation. For potential program sustainability, this project has involved employee representatives in program implementation and taking in charge of the ongoing program activities, and has managed to establish interdepartmental partnership to address common workplace health issues. Even though this research project has not made great progress, it has been moving toward meeting the project objectives and the organisations’ needs. From the Liming experience, this research provided recommendations for future development of WHP in Taiwan including: 1) develop national policies to define clear responsibilities in WHP development at different levels; 2) establish appropriate capacity building and training programs; 3) develop practical guidelines and tools tailored to suit Taiwan’s local conditions and needs; 4) set up effective evaluation and quality management system; 5) provide a professional or technical support team to assist workplaces or industries with the development and implementation of WHP programs.

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Thesis (PhD Doctorate)
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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Griffith School of Environment
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Integrative Workplace Health Management
work and workplace health
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