Workplace health promotion programs show positive benefits, study finds
Work health promotion programs use various methods -- for example, targeting lifestyles, work tasks, health and safety issues, or work environments -- to help improve employee health. According to the report, published in the November issue of the Journal
of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, researchers said workplace health promotion has shown that it is worthwhile and affects employees' ability to work, despite the limitations of available data.
Dr. Kuoppala Jaana of Finland led a group of researchers who identified and analyzed 46 previous studies evaluating the effects of work health promotion programs. The results showed meaningful improvements in several key measures, notably including a 22 percent reduction in sick leave. Work health promotion showed positive effects in other areas as well, including reduced emotional exhaustion and burnout, improvement on measures of mental health, and increases in employees' perceived work ability.
Jaana said the studies suggested that certain types of work health promotion programs had benefits in specific areas. For example, exercise programs seemed to increase overall mental well-being and ability while reducing absences due to illness. Programs designed to promote healthy lifestyles and ergonomic working conditions also helped to reduce absences.
Researchers said an important limiting factor was that most of the studies reviewed were of low scientific quality -- therefore the evidence they provided was generally weak. However, Jaana said the evidence for reduced work absences was rated "moderately strong."
The study also provided guidance on what types of programs are effective. Based on their findings, Jaana and colleagues suggested that work health promotion programs "should target both physical and psychosocial environments at work."
December 2, 2008
Copyright 2008© LRP Publications