Wellness programs (WPs) are common in American industry. Although some produce financial benefits to employers, the effects on health risks of workers are less frequently reported. We analyzed blood pressure (> 140/90 mm Hg, BP), total cholesterol (> 240 mg/dL, CHOL) and body mass index (> 30 kg/m2, HiBMI) measurements and self-reported smoking (SMOKE) and smokeless tobacco use (CHEW), excessive alcohol use (ETOH), and regular exercise (EX ≥ 3×/wk), from 11 twice-yearly health fairs during 2000 through 2006) in a pipe-manufacturing company with 1,240 workers. Annual turnover rate was 5 to 7%. Participation rates were 65 to 70%. Mean age of participants was 41.5 ± 11.1 (SD); 78% were male. A WP Incentive (WPI) was initiated in April 2004, which provided $500 cash for (1) being examined by a primary physician; (2) obtaining care for any (a) blood pressure, (b) dyslipidemia, or (c) diabetes thus identified; (3) attending a health fair and (4) if using tobacco, a cessation program. Our analysis compared 3 years pre- versus 2.5 years post-WPI, as follows:
Conclusion The prevalent health risks in this stable workforce were generally unaffected by the WPI, except for a decrease in (self-reported) smoking and an increase in workers who exercise three times weekly. The borderline-significant rise in the proportion of workers with blood pressures over 140/90 mm Hg is both a challenge as to causation and an opportunity for more effective interventions.
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