Effect of a participatory organizational workplace intervention on workplace social capital: post-hoc results from a cluster randomized controlled trial

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Elisabeth Framke, Ole Henning Sorensen, Jacob Pedersen, Thomas Clausen, Vilhelm Borg, Reiner Ernst Rugulies

A high level of workplace social capital (WSC) may contribute to the protection of employees’ health. We hypothesized that a participatory workplace intervention would increase the level of WSC defined as vertical WSC (i.e. WSC linking together employees and their leaders) and horizontal WSC (i.e. WSC bonding employees together).
We conducted a secondary data analysis of a cluster randomized controlled trial that was implemented among all employees in 78 municipal Danish pre-schools (44 intervention and 34 control group schools). The study sample consisted of 606 employees, 386 in the intervention and 220 in the control group. The intervention aimed to improve the psychosocial working environment by using a participatory approach and focusing on core job tasks. Vertical and horizontal WSC was measured by five and four items, respectively, at baseline and at 24-months follow-up. We estimated intervention effect by calculating the interaction of change over time by group assignment (intervention versus control group) and included workplace identification number in a repeated statement to take into account that employees were nested within workplaces. We conducted post-hoc analyses to examine whether intervention effect differed by implementation degree.
WSC decreased in both groups. In the main analyses, there was no statistically significant difference between intervention and control group, neither for vertical nor horizontal WSC. However, when we excluded intervention workplaces with a low degree of implementation, we found a statistically significant difference between the intervention and the control group (estimate: 0.25, 95% CI: 0.00 to 0.50, p = 0.049), indicating that vertical WSC decreased in the control group and remained stable in the intervention group.
There was not a statistically significant difference between intervention and control group in the main analysis. Post-hoc analyses, however, suggest that the intervention may have prevented a decrease in vertical WSC among employees in workplaces with a high or a medium degree of implementation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number693
JournalBMC Public Health
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2019

    Research areas

  • Psychosocial, Workplace social capital, Vertical, Horizontal, Occupational health, RCT

ID: 222966440