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Retirees Could Use Workplace Wellness Programs

Study finds phone counseling and mailers could get them back

MONDAY, Jan. 2, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Telephone nurse counseling and regular mailings are among the methods that could persuade the many retired employees who drop out of workplace wellness programs to return to the programs, says a University of Michigan (U-M) study.

The researchers looked at a workplace wellness program offered by the United Auto Workers and General Motors, and found that retirees dropped out of the more comprehensive parts of the program, such as health screenings, doctor's visit vouchers, and counseling for risky health behaviors.

The workers probably abandoned these services because they were mainly offered at the workplace, said study author Louis Yen of U-M's Health Management Research Center. However, Yen and his colleagues found the GM retirees were more likely than current GM employees to use communication-based wellness services offered through newsletters and telephone calls.

"Retirees frequently move and are not located in the same community as the employer. Therefore, mail, telephone and Internet programs may be the most successful in reaching this important group," Yen said in a prepared statement.

The study appears in the January/February issue of the American Journal of Health Behavior.

Boosting retiree participation in workplace wellness programs could save companies a great deal of money in terms of health benefits.

"The vast majority of these programs are available only to active employees. Retired employees are often excluded from the health promotion program, even though many employers pay a large part of their health-care costs," Yen said.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information about healthy aging for older adults.

SOURCE: Health Behavior News Service, news release, Dec. 31, 2005
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