An integrative, multilevel, and transdisciplinary research approach to challenges of work, family, and health
Recognizing a need for rigorous, experimental research to support the efforts of workplaces and policymakers in improving the health and wellbeing of employees and their families, the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention formed the Work, Family & Health Network (WFHN). The WFHN is implementing an innovative multisite study with a rigorous experimental design (adaptive randomization, control groups), comprehensive multilevel measures, a novel and theoretically based intervention targeting the psychosocial work environment, and translational activities. This paper describes challenges and benefits of designing a multilevel and transdisciplinary research network that includes an effectiveness study to assess intervention effects on employees, families, and managers; a daily diary study to examine effects on family functioning and daily stress; a process study to understand intervention implementation; and translational research to understand and inform diffusion of innovation. Challenges were both conceptual and logistical, spanning all aspects of study design and implementation. In dealing with these challenges, however, the WFHN developed innovative, transdisciplinary, multi-method approaches to conducting workplace research that will benefit both the research and business communities.