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Wellness Programs Take Hold in American Workplaces

WEDNESDAY, April 24, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Nearly half of U.S. workplaces now offer wellness programs, a new study finds.

"Most American adults work, and many spend half or more of their waking hours at work," said study author Laura Linnan. She's a professor in the department of health behavior at the University of North Carolina's School of Global Public Health.

"Where we work, how long we work, the conditions of our work, who we work with -- all of these factors impact our health," Linnan said in a university news release. "Employers have an opportunity to shape work environments and work conditions in ways that support employee health."

The larger the workplace, the more likely it was to have a wellness program, the survey revealed.

Health promotion programs were offered by 39% of workplaces with 10 to 24 employees, 60% of workplaces with 50 to 99 employees, and 92% of workplaces with 500 or more employees, according to the report.

But the survey also found that many workplace programs focused only on certain areas of health and wellness, rather than taking a comprehensive approach.

Nearly one-third of workplaces offered some type of program to address physical activity, fitness or inactivity.

About one-fifth offered programs to help employees quit tobacco use, and about 17% had weight management/obesity programs, according to the study published April 22 in the American Journal of Health Promotion.

Three factors were independent predictors of having a comprehensive health promotion program: having at least one person assigned to be responsible for the program; a budget; and several years of experience with health promotion programming.

The survey is the most recent national poll of workplace health promotion programs, and the first of its kind in 13 years, the researchers noted.

This survey "identifies gaps in knowledge to help practitioners and researchers set the agenda for future progress in worker and workplace health," Linnan explained.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on workplace health promotion.

SOURCE: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, news release, April 22, 2019

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