The Workplace and Health Report Shows Impact on Workers with Disabilities and their Caregivers

A new poll of working adults 1 in the U.S. by National Public Radio, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health was conducted to examine workers’ perceptions of health problems, experiences, issues, and challenges in the workplace. This poll sought to answer seven main questions related to health in the workplace:

1. What relationship do adults see between their workplace and their health?

2. What health benefits are offered to workers to improve their personal health, do workers use these benefits, and what are the reasons why they use or do not use these benefits?

3. What are the experiences of those who are working while they are sick or are caring for sick family members?

4. How does the workplace affect the health of different types of workers, including shift workers, workers in dangerous jobs, disabled workers, and workers in low-paying jobs?

5. How do jobs impact workers’ levels of stress?

6. How do adults rate their workplace in terms of supporting their health?

7. How do paid vacation benefits in the U.S. compare to Europe?

According the the report summary, the findings indicate that a significant portion of working adults say that their current job impacts their health.  A significant percentage of working adults think that their current job affects their overall health, family life, social life, stress level, weight, eating habits, and sleeping habits, and almost half of them give their workplace only fair or poor ratings in its efforts to reduce their stress.

Of importance to workers with disabilities, the survey results note that a majority of workers in low-paying jobs, dangerous jobs, disabled workers, workers in medical and restaurant jobs, and people who work 50 or more hours per week in their main job say their job has a negative impact on their stress level.

Additionally, the report notes that many workers have also had experiences in caring for family members who were seriously ill, injured, or disabled while working at their current job. 

Access the full report here.


Hi Mike:

This is such an interesting report.  From page 15:

  • Despite the fact that a majority of working adults (75%) say their workplace offers them paid vacation days, less than half of all workers who received paid vacation days used all (35%) or most (14%) of them. Thirty-one percent (31%) used only some of the paid vacation days they received, while 17% of workers used none of their paid vacation days in the past 12 months.
  • While a majority of working adults in average-or high-paying jobs took all or most of their paid vacation days, less than four in ten working adults in low-paying jobs took all or most of their paid vacation days.
  • When given a list of major reasons why they did not take all of their paid vacation days, a majority say they wanted to save them for some other time (60% of working adults with paid vacation days who did not use them all).
  • Fewer adults say they did not use all of their paid vacation because there wouldn’t be enough people to cover their work (32% of working adults with paid vacation days who did not use them all), their workload made it too hard to take a vacation (28%), and working more would help them get ahead at work (25%).

I was wondering if the list included: fear of being replaced and the ability to cash out vacation days (still "vacation days," I guess).  What do others in the community think?  The report suggests that we're all workaholics...with all the health issues that come with it.

Cynthia Zafft