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  • CDC Program Helps Smaller Companies Invest in Employee Health

    Participating Employers Offer More Evidence-Based Health Interventions

    Small- to mid-size employers participating in a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) program increased their investment in evidence-based interventions to improve worker health, according to a study in the July Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

    Laurie Cluff, PhD, of RTI International and colleagues report an evaluation of the CDC’s National Healthy Worksite Program (NHWP). One hundred small (less than 100 employees) and mid-size (100 to 250 employees) companies were offered assistance in implementing comprehensive workplace health programs.

    After 18 months, availability of wellness programs and employee health measures was compared for 41 employers who completed the NHWP versus 59 companies that left the program. The NHWP focused on evidence-based interventions to improve physical activity and nutrition and reduce tobacco use.

    Companies that completed the NHWP implemented more evidence-based interventions — a 27 percent increase from before the program. They also increased organizational supports to build and maintain comprehensive health promotion programs and to work toward creating a "culture of health."

    Physical activity and nutrition improved among employees at the NHWP companies, although body weight did not change significantly. The percentage of smokers decreased slightly. Nearly one-third of workers initially considered at high or moderate health risk moved to a more favorable risk level.

    About 70 percent of US companies offer some type of workplace health promotion program, although most don’t have comprehensive programs. It can be difficult for smaller companies to implement effective, comprehensive wellness programs.

    "The NHWP demonstrated that when provided with training and support to establish a workplace health infrastructure and a data-driven planning strategy, employers of all sizes can implement evidence-based health interventions," Dr. Cluff and coauthors write. They note that longer follow-up will be needed to assess whether the NHWP led to better employee health outcomes.

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    Citation — Lang J, Cluff L, Payne J, Matson-Koffman D, Hampton J. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: findings from the National Healthy Worksite Program. J Occup Environ Med. 2017;59(7):631-41.

    About the Author — Dr. Cluff may be contacted for interviews at lcluff@rti.org.

    About ACOEM — ACOEM (www.acoem.org), an international society of 4,500 occupational physicians and other health care professionals, provides leadership to promote optimal health and safety of workers, workplaces, and environments.

    About the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine — The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (www.joem.org) is the official journal of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Edited to serve as a guide for physicians, nurses, and researchers, the clinically oriented research articles are an excellent source for new ideas, concepts, techniques, and procedures that can be readily applied in the industrial or commercial employment setting.