Researcher says physical, psychological well-being impact employee health
Thomas A. Wright, author of the study and professor of management at Kansas State University, published his findings on the relationship between employee psychological well-being and cardiovascular health in a recent issue of the Journal of Organizational
Behavior. Using a sample of supervisory-level personnel, Wright found that while systolic and diastolic blood pressure measures were not individually related to psychological well-being, the composite cardiovascular measure -- pulse product -- was. Pulse product is defined in terms of an efficiency-based ratio -- the difference between systolic and diastolic blood pressure, multiplied by the pulse rate, and divided by 100. Those employees with higher, or more efficient, levels of psychological well-being were more likely to have lower, or more efficient, pulse product scores.
"In our study, we found that even after controlling for employee age, gender, employee smoking behavior, education level, ethnicity, weight, job satisfaction, and anxiety -- all widely proposed as correlates of blood pressure -- employee well-being was still a significant predictor of one's cardiovascular health as measured by pulse product," Wright said.
Cardiovascular health can be costly. Researchers said employees' cardiovascular health can have costly effects for both individuals and organizations. Wright said recent statistics from the American Heart Association show that the cost of cardiovascular disease and strokes in the United States is an estimated $432 billion annually. He broke that down to about 60 percent -- $259 billion -- in direct medical costs and 40 percent -- $173 billion -- in lost productivity.
Wright said organizations should monitor their employees' cardiovascular health by considering the simultaneous role of pulse product and psychological well-being, though there are limitations.
"From past experiences, I know many potentially at-risk employees will refuse to have a company nurse or skilled medical technician take their blood pressure for fear that the information will be used against them," he said. "When all is said and done, it is the employees themselves who must shoulder the first line of responsibility for their health, and anyone with the ability to take their blood pressure and pulse rate can determine their pulse product."
Wright said employers can implement periodic health awareness campaigns and provide employees with the opportunity to anonymously access blood pressure monitoring machines at work. Additionally, Wright said another significant finding from incorporating this efficiency-based approach to cardiovascular health is the pronounced negative consequence of smoking. Corporations, he said, can address this issue through reduced employee insurance premiums for smoking cessation.
June 22, 2009
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