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Health and wellness programs in the workplace reduce lost time due to hypertension and diabetes

According to a new study presented at an American Heart Association-sponsored conference in Washington, health and wellness programs can improve employee health and reduce lost time from the job. The study also found that absenteeism declined significantly among those with hypertension and diabetes.

Employees who took part in the program improved their blood pressure control by 9% - the number of employees with normal blood pressure increased from 28% to 37%. At the same time, the number of employees missing work as a result of hypertension dropped to 15.6% from 25.8%.

Employees with diabetes improved the control of the disease by 15% - the percentage with normal blood sugar increased from 43% to 58%. In addition the percentage of those missing work due to diabetes dropped to less than 17% from 50%.

Over a three-year period (2004 – 2006), 2100 employees at a municipal utility in Jacksonville, Fla who participated in a comprehensive wellness program, including health education, screenings, and coaching were monitored. The utility has a predominately male workforce (median age 47) and with the aging, male dominated workforce there was particular concern for cardiovascular disease.

Workplace accidents also dropped from 83 in 2003 to 25 in 2006. Of the 83 incidents in 2003, 20 resulted in time away from work, compared with seven of the 25 incidents in 2006.
Employees had started their own worksite health program in 1989, taking out a loan for the equipment while the company provided the space. Over time, the company began to notice benefits to helping workers stay fit. According to the lead author of the study, Sharon A. Clark, D.H.Sc., “The program has grown to where it is now part of the company’s strategic plan.”

Coaching was an important part of the program. In addition to knowing that something should change, individuals need the motivation and interest to change their habits and lifestyle to improve their overall health.

For information on health and wellness programs, contact us.