The assessment of the aggregate health status of an organisation.
As adults spend the major portion of their lives at work, it is essential that the reciprocal relationship between their work and health be recognised. In this regard, occupational nurses have an important function, through the provision of effective occupational health programmes in the workplace, although this is a challenging task and programmes often bear little relevance to health needs. The process of identifying health needs involves the measurement of health status, requiring a clear understanding of the nature of health and how it is determined. However, conceptualisations of health in relation to work tend to be inadequate as they deal with it on an individualistic basis, often as a negative measure, do not include the various dimensions of health, and fail to take account of the influences of the wider community. This study sets out to overcome these problems. A model of aggregate (collective) health in the workplace was developed from a conceptual framework, to expain how influences inter-relate and contribute to health in this setting. Health is conceived in positive terms, with the individual represented as the core, passing through the organisation and community, thereby depicting the interrelationships between their health. At the aggregate level four sets of factors, human biology, environment, lifestyle and health care organisation, are shown to influence health. The subjective, objective, physical, psychological and social dimensions of health are incorporated, whilst the potential of work as a stressor or health strengthening influence on health is recognised. Concepts from the model have been operationalised into composites of variables, for the assessment of aggregate health status. A measurement strategy was then devised, involving the analysis of data collected by means of an examination of organisational records, interviews with key people, a survey of a random stratified sample of members, health hazard identification in the workplace and an assessment of the provision of health care in the wider community. The survey instrument, consisting of an interview and questionnaire, was developed and subjected to a field test. The model, strategy and instrument were revised according to the results.