A Center of Excellence for Research and Graduate Education in Protecting the Health and Safety of the Workforce

The University of Michigan Center for Occupational Health and Safety Engineering (COHSE) is an Education and Research Center (ERC) supported by the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

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What is Occupational Health?

A multidisciplinary field concerned with the safety, health, and welfare of people at work.

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Recent COHSE Publication

Sungwon Park, PhD, RN

Postdoctoral Fellow/Assistant Professor
Health Behavior and Biological Sciences
School of Nursing, University of Michigan


Exploring the characteristics and health outcomes of working from home: Analysis of 2021 California Health Interview Survey data

Full Article


Background: Working from home (WFH) may affect health behaviors and mental health. The coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic saw many US employees transition to WFH, which has persisted in various job sectors and significantly impacted employees. However, its effects on health outcomes have remained unclear. We aimed to explore the characteristics and health outcomes of, and health-related differences between, WFH and not-WFH groups.

Methods: Using the 2021 California Health Interview Survey data, we analyzed health behaviors (smoking, alcohol consumption, and fruit-related nutrition) and the mental health status of 12,438 individuals using descriptive statistics, Pearson’s χ2 test, and regressions.

Results: A total of 39% were WFH and 61% were not-WFH. Overall, the WFH group had worse health behaviors and mental health than the not-WFH group. Age was associated with smoking in both groups (WFH: b = 0.37; not-WFH: b = 0.35), but with fruit-related nutrition only in the WFH group. Household income and occupation were associated with alcohol consumption in both groups. Age (WFH: b = -1.58; not-WFH: b = -1.39), household income (WFH: b = -0.75; not-WFH: b = -0.34), and job duration (WFH: b = -0.34; not-WFH: b = -0.40) were associated with mental health in both groups; those who were younger and had lower household incomes and job durations had worse mental health.

Conclusion: Health management is a clear necessity for the WFH group. Irrespective of WFH status, young workers with shorter than 5 years’ job duration reported mental distress, highlighting a need for distress assessment and management for the young workforce.

Keywords: COVID-19; California Health Interview Survey; employee; health behavior; mental health; worker; working from home.