Workplace Wellness Programs Do Not Impact Clinical Outcomes
However, improvements seen in employees' health beliefs, number having a primary care physician
WEDNESDAY, June 3, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- A comprehensive workplace wellness program may change employee health beliefs and increase self-reporting of having a primary care physician but does not significantly affect clinical outcomes, according to a study published online May 26 in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Julian Reif, Ph.D., from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and colleagues evaluated the effect of a comprehensive workplace wellness program on employee health, health beliefs, and medical use (office, inpatient, and emergency department visits) after 12 and 24 months. The study included 4,834 university employees who were randomly assigned to receive incentives to participate in the workplace wellness program (3,300) or not participate in the wellness program (1,534).
The researchers found that the program did not have a significant effect on biometrics, medical diagnoses, or medical use at either 12 or 24 months. However, a significantly higher proportion of employees in the treatment group reported having a primary care physician after 24 months than in the control group. On average, those in the intervention group had significantly improved employee beliefs about their health, including participant decreases in beliefs about their chance of having a body mass index >30 kg/m³, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and impaired glucose level. While jointly, the change in belief measures was significant, individual belief measures were not.
"We add to a growing body of evidence from randomized controlled trials that workplace wellness programs are unlikely to significantly improve employee health or reduce medical use in the short term," the authors write.