Journal Article

Evaluation of empowerment processes in a workplace health promotion intervention based on learning in Sweden

Hanna Arneson and Kerstin Ekberg

in Health Promotion International

Volume 20, issue 4, pages 351-359
Published in print December 2005 | ISSN: 0957-4824
Published online September 2005 | e-ISSN: 1460-2245 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/heapro/dai023
Evaluation of empowerment processes in a workplace health promotion intervention based on learning in Sweden

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The aim of this study was to evaluate a theory-based method for workplace health promotion (WHP) with regard to possible facilitation of empowerment processes. The intervention tool was the pedagogic method known as problem-based learning (PBL). The aim of the intervention was to promote empowerment and health among the employees. The intervention was implemented in three organizations within the public sector in Sweden, in a bottom-up approach. All employees, including management, in each organization, were offered the opportunity to participate (n = 113) and 87% (n = 97) participated. The intervention was implemented in 13 groups of six to eight participants who met once a week over a period of 4 months. The predetermined overall goal of the intervention was to promote employee health within the organizational setting. A facilitator in each group and a group-specific mutual agreement guided the intervention, as did the problem solving process. The participants set goals and developed strategies to reach their goals between the meetings. Thirty informants were interviewed in seven focus groups after the intervention about the intervention method and the process, following a semi-structured theme guide. The phenomenographic analysis resulted in six descriptive categories: reflection, awareness and insight, self-direction and self-management, group coherence, social support and actions. The results correspond to established theories of components of empowerment processes. The method initiated processes of change at organizational, workplace and individual levels as the participants examined their work situation, determined problems and initiated solutions. Social support and group coherence were expressed as essential in order to transform challenging strategies into action and goal realization. The findings indicate that systematic improvements of social support and group coherence among employees ought to be facilitated by the organization as a health-promoting arena. PBL appears to be a profitable and powerful instrument with the potential to enable empowerment.

Keywords: workplace health promotion; empowerment; problem-based learning

Journal Article.  5048 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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