Trouble in transit: Organizational barriers to workers’ health

Nicole P. Bowles, Bruce S. McEwen, Carla Boutin-Foster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: Valuable insights on the health and behavior of transit workers can be obtained from qualitative research that considers the social environment, which affects job performance and determines levels of perceived stress. Methods: Using a grounded theory approach, semi-structured interviews were conducted with American transit workers (n = 32). Recorded interviews were transcribed and analyzed using a constant comparative method. Results: Participants described categories related to entrenched organizational practices, particularly managements’ leadership style, which created an atmosphere of distrust. High demanding work schedules, as a result of technological advances, were discussed in relation to diminished breaks, fatigue, and unhealthy diets. Transit workers also attributed increased work demands and irregular working hours to compromised time with family and friends. Conclusions: The described barriers to positive health behaviors and social support underscore the need for interventions that ensure adequate breaks and recovery between shifts and increase safety for transit passengers. Am. J. Ind. Med. 60:350–367, 2017.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)350-367
Number of pages18
JournalAmerican Journal of Industrial Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • anger
  • fear
  • grounded theory
  • organizational behavior
  • stress
  • workplace aggression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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