Purpose and theoretical basis
The Work Environment Impact Scale (WEIS) [Ekbladh & Haglund, 2010] is an assessment instrument used to identify how psychosocial and physical factors in the work environment affect individuals’ satisfaction and well-being at work. The theoretical basis for WEIS is the Model of Human Occupation (MOHO) [Kielhofner, 2008].
The WEIS assessment consists of a semi-structured interview followed by a rating. The WEIS interview provides information about how the individual perceives that psychosocial and physical factors in his/her unique work environment affect his/her sense of satisfaction and well-being when carrying out work. After completion of the interview, the professional user rates WEIS’ 17 variables that consider the work environment within the following four areas: the physical space, objects used in work, social groups, and norms and perceptions of how work tasks are to be carried out. Examples of physical space factors in the work environment include design of work premises, sensory factors such as lighting and air quality, and the comfort and accessibility of the premises as affected by factors such as dust and dirt. Objects used in work looks at work tools, including access to and functionality of equipment and material, and the effect of these on the individual’s work performance – with the individual’s safety when carrying out work tasks one aspect of this. The social work environment in WEIS comprises social groups in the form of interaction with co-workers, communication with superiors, and client/customer contacts. The social environment in WEIS also considers norms and perceptions about how work tasks are to be carried out, which includes organisational factors such as management structure and possibilities for influence, as well as productivity requirements and the effect of working hours on satisfaction and well-being when working. The variables in WEIS have been linked to the concepts in ICF (the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health), and more specifically relate to areas and categories in two of the ICF components – activity/participation and environmental factors [Kielhofner, 2008].
Individuals who experience psychosocial or physical difficulties related to the work environment are suitable for assessment using WEIS. In the interview, information is requested about how a given work environment – the individual’s workplace, placement or similar – affects the individual. WEIS can be used as a component when assessing work ability and for identifying how different work environment factors could be adapted to support the individual. Assessment using WEIS focuses on participation in the form of the individual’s perception of his/her physical and psychosocial work environment, and its influence on well-being and work execution [Ekbladh, 2008]. During the WEIS interview, questions are asked about how a specific work environment is perceived by the individual. The person to be interviewed using WEIS therefore needs to have a specific workplace and/or work environment to relate to. This workplace/work environment can be where the person is employed, but it can also be a placement or similar. The important thing is that the individual has spent enough time in this work environment to have created his/her own perception of it. WEIS is not tied to any specific illnesses, injuries or diagnoses – instead it can be used for clients with any form of work-related difficulties.
The manual for WEIS-S 3.0 includes instructions for the interview procedure and the subsequent rating of WEIS’ variables. The manual’s interview guide and its descriptions of each variable are central elements of this. At the end of the manual is a compilation form and a diagram overview of the ratings, and also a suggested structure for summarising the results of the WEIS assessment. It furthermore contains a description of how MOHO, as the theoretical frame of reference, relates to WEIS and how the model can offer support for continued intervention on the basis of the assessment results. There is also a brief section about research into and development of the instrument. The user who wants to apply WEIS in an appropriate and professional way needs to read the manual and to have a basic familiarity with the Model of Human Occupation. Assessments using WEIS can appropriately be combined with assessments made using the instruments Assessment of Work Performance (AWP), Assessment of Work Characteristics (AWC) and Worker Role Interview (WRI).
Scientific studies of WEIS
The first version of WEIS was developed in Chicago in 1996, and the second version was launched in 1998 [Moore-Corner et al, 1998]. WEIS was edited and translated into Swedish in 1997, and is available today in a third Swedish version [Ekbladh & Haglund, 2010]. Psychometric testing of the construct validity of WEIS has been carried out [Corner et al, 1997; Kielhofner et al, 1999; Ekbladh et al, 2014], in which the instrument obtained good results. Another study [Ekbladh et al, 2010] showed that WEIS can be used to identify work environment factors that support or impede individuals’ well-being and execution of work.
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