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Managers’ attitudes towards employees with depression in the Hospitality industry

Project Personnel: Valentini Kalargyrou,Vidya Sundar, Fevzi Okumus, Shiva Jahani

Sponsor: UNH Paul College

One in 5 Americans experience mental illness in a given year, and 16 million people in the United States (US) have had one major depressive episode in the last year. Clinical depression is among the top three workplace problems seen by employment assistance professional after family crisis and stress. Yet, individuals with depression experience stigma in the workplace related to their condition. Better awareness and understanding of the factors that influence attitudes towards mental illness can help promote a more positive work environment for employees with depression. Additionally, managers who are more effective and efficient at managing employees with mental health conditions are more likely to promote positive behaviors in the workplace. The purpose of this research is to further understand the organizational and individual factors that determine managers’ attitudes towards employees with depression.  We are conducting a mixed methods study examining behavioral, cognitive, and affective dimensions of attitudes towards employees with depression.

Reasons why Americans with disabilities are not working: A mixed-methods content analysis

Project Personnel: Denise Fyffe, Anthony Lequerica, Natalie Williams, Courtney Ward, Vidya Sundar, and John O'Neill

Unemployment and under-employment are persistent hurdles for persons with disabilities and can significantly limit their community participation. The 2015 Kessler Foundation National Employment and Disability Survey (KFNEDS) examined ways that people with disabilities seek and maintain employment. KFNEDS findings indicate that people with disabilities are striving to work and overcoming barriers to work. However, a subsample of KFNEDS participants reported they were not currently working and did not plan to seek employment in the near future. Understanding the reasons persons who are living with disabilities, report that they are not seeking employment is critical to develop targeted employment interventions. We are using a mixed-methods design and content analysis to rank and identify the most frequently reported reasons for not seeking employment in a subsample of KFNEDS participant. We anticipate that the findings will inform development of programs and policies that promote labor force participation of people with disabilities.

When they are in my arms: A mixed methods study on occupational risk factors of childcare professionals

Project personnel: Kim Reilly and Vidya Sundar

There are approximately 1,216,600 childcare professionals in the U.S. and this number is expected to increase as the number of families with dual working parents increase (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018). Research on childcare programs and childcare programs are primarily limited to quality of the program and with a focus on the needs of young children or the educational curriculum. An often-ignored determinant of the quality of childcare services is the health and job tenure of the childcare professional. When working with pre-school age children or younger, childcare workers can often be seen on the floor reading with children, moving in and out of kid-sized furniture, picking up toys from the floor multiple number of times, and performing one-handed tasks while carrying children. Consequently, child care workers are exposed to a multitude of occupational risk factors that may lead to musculoskeletal pain and discomfort. The over-arching goal of this project is to evaluate the musculoskeletal risk factors that child care workers are exposed to in their day-to-day work and where possible, to provide behavioral and organizational interventions to reduce the risk factors.  The specific research questions for the project were:

1. To use participatory ergonomics to define and understand the physical and emotional stressors that childcare professionals experience on a daily basis.

2. To identify the daily tasks that present the greatest musculoskeletal risk through using a job task analysis.

Are African Americans with Cognitive Disabilities Striving to Work?

Project Personnel: Natalie F. Williams, Courtney Ward-Sutton, Corey L. Moore, Edward O. Manyibe, Vidya Sundar, John O’Neill, and Sasha L. Williams

Although pervasive employment challenges for African Americans with cognitive disabilities persist, one nationally representative survey conducted by the Kessler Foundation presents positive employment-related findings regarding individuals with disabilities, overall.  The 2015 Kessler Foundation National Employment and Disability Survey (KFNEDS) found that individuals with disabilities, as a group, are successfully overcoming barriers and “striving to work” (i.e., currently working, looking for work, or have worked since disability onset; Kessler Foundation, 2015a). Additional research is needed to examine whether African Americans with cognitive disabilities are striving to work, when compared to their White counterparts. 

Injuries and Illnesses of Childcare workers in the US: A policy perspective

Project Personnel: Molly Ohman, Vidya Sundar, Karla Armenti

This study examines pain, fatigue and work-related stress experienced by childcare professionals as a function of individual and organizational factors.