NC Works4Health: Reducing Chronic Disease Risks in Socioeconomically Disadvantaged Unemployed Populations

  • STATUS
    Recruiting
  • End date
    Sep 1, 2025
  • participants needed
    600
  • sponsor
    University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Updated on 1 October 2021
chronic disease
diabetes prevention

Summary

The proposed study, NC Works4Health (NCW4H), builds on the strengths of long-standing academic-community research partnerships between this UNC at Chapel Hill (UNC) team of investigators and key stakeholders across health, social service, employment, and economic development sectors. The overall goal of this study is to test the effectiveness of a multilevel intervention that can be readily adopted by communities to reduce chronic disease risks in socioeconomically disadvantaged populations by (a) embedding prevention efforts in DSS-E programs at the individual level, and (b) enhancing supervisor supports for DSS-E hires at the employer level. Interventions at each level, and their joint effects, are designed to mitigate the psychological, behavioral, and clinically relevant risks for chronic disease onset, morbidity, and comorbidity that accrue with unemployment and the employment-entry transition.

Description

Studies have shown that a single episode of unemployment can trigger a cascade of stress-related coping and behavioral processes that have deleterious effects on health. Notably, this cascade not only frequently results in psychological distress, but also accelerated weight gain (persisting up to 10 years regardless of re-employment), and elevated blood pressure. As such, individuals who experience unemployment are at a much higher risk for chronic disease development, comorbidity, and early mortality. Given inequities in the labor market, socioeconomically disadvantaged groups (i.e., those with less education, less income or wealth, and/or who are racial/ethnic minorities) are disproportionately, and more adversely affected by both unemployment and chronic disease, and feel this burden acutely in their everyday lives. Socioeconomically disadvantaged adults often receive public assistance benefits during unemployment episodes as well as job training and placement services through Department of Social Services Employment (DSS-E) programs; however, these programs do not include prevention-focused content to reduce the chronic disease risks that accrue during unemployment episodes. In addition, DSS-E efforts to help individuals succeed in securing and performing in a new job are often thwarted by implicit 'welfare'-related bias and insufficient supports in workplaces into which DSS-E clients are hired. Although the current absence of chronic disease prevention in DSS-E programs and lack of supports for DSS-E hires in workplaces compound chronic disease risks, it is also an area in which communities can address social determinants that are known to produce health inequities.

The proposed study, NC Works4Health (NCW4H), builds on the strengths of long-standing academic-community research partnerships between this UNC at Chapel Hill (UNC) team of investigators and key stakeholders across health, social service, employment, and economic development sectors. The overall goal of this study is to test the effectiveness of a multilevel intervention that can be readily adopted by communities to reduce chronic disease risks in socioeconomically disadvantaged populations by (a) embedding prevention efforts in DSS-E programs at the individual level, and (b) enhancing supervisor supports for DSS-E hires at the employer level. Interventions at each level, and their joint effects, are designed to mitigate the psychological, behavioral, and clinically relevant risks for chronic disease onset, morbidity, and comorbidity that accrue with unemployment and the employment-entry transition. By collaborating across sectors to reduce health inequities, the specific aims will be met in two phases:

Phase I

With community partners and key stakeholders, make minor adaptations to two evidence-based interventions for use in a multilevel intervention that incorporates: (a) a chronic disease prevention program (CDPP) (individual level)into current DSS-E programs for unemployed adults, and (b) supervisor support in the workplace (employer level)into an existing network of employers with jobs that match the skill set of the DSS-E program population.

Phase II

Aim 1. To test the main effects of (a) the individual-level NC Works4Health intervention (Usual DSS-E + CDPP) compared to Usual DSS-E Support, and (b) the employer-level NC Works4Health intervention compared to usual workplace supports on primary and secondary outcomes, over time (at 3, 6, and 12 months from baseline), using a randomized, 2x2 factorial design.

Aim 2. To test the joint effect of the individual-level + employer-level NC Works4Health interventions on primary and secondary outcomes, over time (at 3, 6, and 12 months from baseline).

In the primary outcomes, the investigators expect to see a decrease in psychological distress, weight gain, and blood pressure in groups receiving the intervention at each level, with the greatest decreases in the outcomes observed in the group receiving both the individual- and employer-level interventions.

Secondary outcomes include situational stress, coping style, health behaviors, perceived workplace support, health-related employment functioning and employment duration.

Details
Condition NIDDM, Diabetes Mellitus, Chronic disease, Psychological Distress, Diabetes, type 2 diabetes mellitus, chronic diseases, chronic illnesses, chronic illness, chronic disorder, disease, chronic, diabetes mellitus (dm), type 2 diabetes, type ii diabetes, noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, diabetes type 2
Treatment Immediate Chronic Disease Prevention Program (CDPP), Workplace Equity, Job and Health Supports Employer Intervention, Delayed, attenuated Chronic Disease Prevention Program (CDPP)
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04815278
SponsorUniversity of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Last Modified on1 October 2021

Eligibility

Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

receiving DSS-E services
between the age of 18 and 55 years old
unemployed
fluent and able to read English

Exclusion Criteria

receiving or applied for disability benefits
pregnant
Any of the following chronic conditions: severe high blood pressure (with a reading of 180/110 or higher in the past 6 months), a health condition or injury that has left you unsteady, or unbalanced when you walk, a history of falling in the past 6 months, cancer that is actively being treated with chemotherapy of radiation to your chest or abdomen (stomach area), inflammatory bowel disease (such as Crohn's disease, or ulcerative colitis), an implanted cardiac defibrillator (a small device placed under the skin on your chest to help your heart function)
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