The personal health and wellbeing of adults who work in early childhood education in New Zealand : a thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Nursing at Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand

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Date
2006
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Massey University
Abstract
This research is a descriptive study of the personal health and wellbeing of early childhood workers in New Zealand and describes the health status, behaviours and concerns of adults working in three early childhood education settings. Situated within the concept of Workplace Health Promotion and the idea of healthy work settings, it supports the New Zealand government's strategy to improve workplace health and safety by providing base-line data on the health and wellbeing of early childhood workers. A review of the literature highlighted four main areas of concern for adults who work with young children: exposure to infectious diseases, occupational injuries, risks to pregnant childcare workers and work related stress. A survey of 168 randomly selected participants was carried out in the Wellington area, 73 childcare teachers, 58 kindergarten teachers and 37 home-based educators. Ninety-two percent of respondents reported that they had good or excellent health. Significant differences were found between the groups for nutrition, days absent due to ilness, accidental injuries, job-related stress and ergonomic aspects of their work. Kindergarten teachers exhibited the most areas of health concern and home-based educators the least. All groups reported an increase in various physical symptoms since working with children, in particular backaches, muscle strain and fatigue. One quarter of respondents experienced an illness related to their work with children during the last year, most commonly respiratory and gastrointestinal illnesses. It is intended that the findings from this study will contribute towards the development and progress of workplace health promotion in early childhood education settings. The study alerts early childhood education employers of the need to assess influences on employee health such as workload and stress related issues, the provision of an ergonomically healthy work environment and adequate conditions of employment.
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Early childhood educators, Health and hygiene, New Zealand
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