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On Effect Assessment in Work Environment Interventions – A Literature Overview and Methodological Reflection

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journal contribution
posted on 24.05.2021, 20:31 by W. Patrick Neumann, Jörgen Eklund, Bo Hansson, Lars Lindbeck
This paper addresses a number of issues for work environment intervention (WEI) researchers in light of the mixed results reported in the literature. If researchers emphasise study quality over intervention quality, reviews that exclude case studies with high quality and multifactorial interventions may be vulnerable to ‘quality criteria selection bias’. Learning from ‘failed’ interventions is inhibited by both publication bias and reporting lengths that limit information on relevant contextual and implementation factors. The authors argue for the need to develop evaluation approaches consistent with the complexity of multifactorial WEIs that: a) are owned by and aimed at the whole organisation; and b) include intervention in early design stages where potential impact is highest. Context variety, complexity and instability in and around organisations suggest that attention might usefully shift from generalisable ‘proof of effectiveness’ to a more nuanced identification of intervention elements and the situations in which they are more likely to work as intended.