Deirdre McCaughey publishes book chapter, gives keynote address

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Deirdre McCaughey, assistant professor of health policy and administration at Penn State, has co-authored a chapter in the book "Advances in Health Care Management," published by Emerald Group Publishing Limited in August. The chapter, titled "Safety Leadership: Extending Workplace Safety Climate Best Practices Across Health Care Workforces," examines the relationship between safety leadership and hospital injury rates.

"Hospitals within the United States consistently have injury rates that are over twice the national employee injury rate," said McCaughey. "Hospital safety studies typically investigate care providers rather than support-service employees. Compounding the lack of data for this understudied population is the scant evidence that is available to examine the relationship of support-service employees’ perceptions of safety and work-related injuries. To examine this phenomenon, we conducted a study to investigate support-service employees’ perceptions of safety leadership and social support as well as the relationship of safety perception to reported injury rates."

The research team included Jonathon Halbesleben (University of Alabama), Grant T. Savage (University of Alabama at Birmingham), Tony Simons (Cornell University) and Gwen McGhan (Penn State), and the study was supported in part by ARAMARK Healthcare.

In the chapter, the team describes its findings that safety leadership (at the supervisor and organization levels) was positively related to individual safety perceptions and unit safety grade, as was supervisor and coworker support. The team also found that coworker support was positively related to the following relationships: supervisor safety leadership and safety perceptions, supervisor safety leadership and unit safety grade, and senior management safety leadership and safety perceptions. Positive employee safety perceptions were found to have a significant relationship with lower reported injury rates.

"These findings suggest that safety leadership from supervisors and senior management as well as coworker support has positive implications for support-service employees’ perceptions of safety, which, in turn, are negatively related to lower odds of reporting injuries," said McCaughey. "The study offers evidence to health care senior leadership that investing in and promoting occupational health and safety can help these organizations reduce their workforce injury rates."

McCaughey will give a keynote address and participate in a president's session on these topics and others at the Association of Occupational Health Professionals in Healthcare's 2013 National Conference being held from Sept. 11 to 14 in Orlando, Fla.

McCaughey is a past recipient of the John Jones Scholar in Workers Compensation Research Award from the Workers Compensation Research Institute. She earned a doctorate and master of business administration degrees at the Asper School of Business in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Prior to her academic career, she was a physical therapist in a large teaching hospital in Canada, and spent 10 years working in management in the private sector in marketing, strategic planning and operations.

Last Updated September 12, 2013