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Workplace Wellness Programs Overview

A RAND Health analysis of worksite wellness programs set out to answer these questions:

  • How prevalent are workplace wellness programs, and what are their characteristics?
  • What impact do the programs have?
  • What role do incentives play in promoting wellness?
  • What are the key factors of successful wellness programs?

And here are some of the findings based on a review of the published literature, an employer survey, an analysis of medical claims and wellness program data, and case studies:

  • Half of US employers with 50 or more workers offer wellness programs.
  • Most employers offering workplace wellness programs did so as a viable strategy to control health care costs.
  • Positive effects on diet, exercise, smoking, alcohol use, physiological markers, and health care costs were identified, but rigorous evaluation techniques were not always used by program evaluators.
  • Success factors for effective programs involved communication about programs goals and benefits; accessibility and alignment with employee needs; leadership support; creative use of resources; and continuous program improvement.

The Affordable Care Act includes provisions to encourage worksite health promotion and prevention as a means to improve health and reduce costs of chronic diseases. The law directed the US Department of Health and Human Services, in collaboration with the Treasury and Labor departments, to undertake this study and report back to Congress. RAND Health was contracted to conduct the analysis.

Source: Mattke S and others. Workplace wellness programs study; final report. RAND Health, 2013.  http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR254.html. Also available at http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/13/WorkplaceWellness/rpt_wellness.cfm

Posted by AHA Resource Center, 312.422.2003, rc@aha.org

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