Scoping Review - Enhancing the Breadth and Depth of Total Worker Health®

A scoping study was undertaken beginning January 2022 to determine the breadth and depth of literature related to the problems and issues identified under the “umbrella” of Total Worker Health® (TWH) as described on the NIOSH TWH website, and to organize the captured literature in various ways to facilitate insights into opportunities for greater impact through knowledge sharing and collaborative efforts. Two aims guided review activities: (1) to expand the knowledge base under the TWH umbrella to increase the reach of TWH initiatives and set up the potential for more systemic and holistic approaches, and (2) to stimulate opportunities for researchers and practitioners to collaborate and coordinate with professionals outside their “silos” to increase impact on worker health, safety and well-being issues.

Three primary questions were pursued:

  • What is the breadth and depth of disciplines included within Total Worker Health® areas of research and practice?
  • What are the similarities and differences among TWH-related disciplines regarding their focus of study and contribution to Total Worker Health®?
  • How do the disciplines compare with respect to the TWH issues potentially addressed by each discipline? What is the potential overlap between the TWH issues addressed by the Occupational Health discipline versus the other disciplines included within Total Worker Health®?

Results from the study show that Total Worker Health-related literature included nine disciplines (Architecture & Design, Psychology, Sociology, Occupational Health, Business Administration, Economics, Social Work, Public Health, and Public Policy) and many additional subdisciplines, indicating a greatly enhanced view of relevant literature. Analyses of the database also showed multiple opportunities for collaboration across disciplines regarding their focus of study, types of interventions, and health issues addressed. Finally, the review revealed that health issues addressed by disciplines varied with respect to their degree of overlap with issues addressed by occupational health (OH) professionals, suggesting that non-OH professionals can play an array of roles as members of interdisciplinary research and intervention teams.