EFPA interviews: Emmanuel Aboagye from Karolinska Institutet (KI)

A new interview in the EFPA News Magazine informs about the progress of the H-WORK project and provide insights into the role of the different partners of the consortium. EFPA is one of the 14 partners of the H-WORK project. This time, Bruna Zani interviewed Emmanuel Aboagye, postodoctoral researcher at Karolinska Institutet.

1. Can you present us your team and the role of the members in the H-Work Project?

Karolinska Institutet (KI) is a member of the H-Work consortium. The Swedish university’s team includes Emmanuel Aboagye and Anna Warnqvist from the Institute of Environmental Medicine. The project’s principal investigator is Emmanuel, and Anna is a statistician who provides technical support and data analysis advice.

2. What is the role of your organization in the H-Work Project?

Karolinska Institutet (KI) will assist in the evaluation of intervention toolkits designed to promote mental health in public and private workplaces in the H-Work project. All interventions will be assessed for their effectiveness in terms of health and work outcomes, as well as their cost-effectiveness.

3. What has your team accomplished in the project so far (results)?

Within Work Package 5 (WP 5), the team created templates to help with data collection on intervention activities and costs for each intervention implemented at the intervention sites. The team also contributed to the creation of a questionnaire for collecting data on objective organizational indicators prior to and after intervention implementation to determine whether the organization could afford the interventions within WP 3. Because organizations may implement multiple and/or multilevel interventions, the plan has been to heavily rely on academic partners at intervention sites to organize data on intervention activities and costs rather than collecting data from study participants through diaries. Thus, the academic partners have been extremely helpful in ensuring a comprehensive data collection process for economic data for each intervention.

4. What are you currently working on and what are the next steps?

Currently, our goal in WP 6 is to contribute to the development and promotion of an economic evaluation tool, which can be used as a standalone or in conjunction with other packaged tools to easily perform economic evaluation on interventions for promoting mental health from a business perspective. The tool will be integrated into the H-Work project’s innovative and interactive platform or website, which will also include free downloadable resources on economic evaluation for mental health interventions. The organizational stakeholders involved in purchasing work health promotion interventions or in a position to decide (i.e., management, HR, OH providers) on occupational health and safety interventions are the target audience for this tool.

The team is eagerly awaiting the data for the Work Package (WP 5) deliverable on the economic evaluation of H-Work interventions. The team will collect data from various intervention sites across the EU and conduct statistical analysis aimed at evaluating the implemented interventions at various levels (IGLO) of the participating organizations. The team is also excited to contribute to the active dissemination of the H-work project’s findings. We would like to participate in the publication of popular scientific results through appropriate channels such as journals, newsletters, and conference attendance.

5. What are your expectations regarding the outcomes of the project, after 2 and a half years of work? Has there been a change in the initial expectations?

The collaboration between the partners and work packages has been enriching and exciting. This was somewhat predictable, but you never know. We could have had more face-to-face consortium meetings to strengthen connections and networks, as well as work on ideas, but that was not to be. However, we cannot deny the importance of the project and what we have accomplished together. I believe the project concept, which began with a needs assessment and ended with organizations receiving the interventions they most needed, was spot on. We were only anticipating possible changes in outcomes. Let’s say it’s not long before we find out, because some of the participating organizations appear to be very interested in the project.

6. What are currently the main obstacles for your work in general and in the project?

There are not many obstacles. Of course, due to the project timelines, the deliverables for the economic evaluation may have to wait a little longer until some follow-up data is collected. Aside from that, we are on track to complete the deliverable in WP 5.

7. What has been (and still is) the impact of COVID on the work of your organization for the project?

COVID-19 came as a surprise. It dragged on for far too long, forcing all planned travel to be canceled. We held almost all our meetings online, but we could have held more face-to-face consortium meetings after the kick-off to strengthen our connections and networks. What the intervention sites have accomplished during the COVID-19 pandemic is nothing short of extraordinary. We greatly appreciate their efforts and contributions in ensuring that KI is not so much affected by COVID in terms of data for our work.

8. What is the biggest strength of your organization in advancing the project?

We are a small team from KI, but we have a lot of help from the other work package members. Our organization’s strength in moving the project forward stems from its expertise in research analysis, interpretation, and dissemination. In the evaluation of this complex multi-level intervention implemented across EU countries, we use the most efficient and innovative methods.

9. How do you think your organization and EFPA can collaborate?

It is important to communicate science. We believe that using the media and giving interviews to journalists is a unique opportunity to experience and share your scientific work with laypeople. We believe that we could collaborate with EFPA on communication activities and developing popular science reports for non-scientific audiences.