Employees with repeat risk appraisals likely to maintain health
In the face of rising health care costs, HRAs have become a widely used tool by employers to improve workers' health awareness and measure health risks. Led by Chih-Wen Pai of the Health Management Research Center at University of Michigan, the researchers analyzed data on employees participating in workplace HRAs at a large manufacturing company. Changes in health status were compared for two groups of workers -- those who had two or more annual HRAs versus those who participated just once.
Of nearly 3,400 workers studied, about half had two or more HRAs in the last few years. Health status improved for workers who had HRAs, whether they participated just once or multiple times. However, workers with multiple HRAs had "a greater degree of favorable change," the study found. Not only were these employees more likely to improve their health status (41 vs. 38 percent), but they were also less likely to decrease their health status (26 vs. 31 percent).
"In other words, a higher proportion of employees in the repeat HRA group did not get worse in overall health status, compared to those in the one-time HRA group," Pai wrote in the study, which was published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
With adjustment for other factors, workers with two or three recent HRAs were 86 percent more likely to improve or at least maintain their health status.
Pai said keeping employees engaged in HRAs and other wellness activities over a period of years "is critical to health status maintenance and improvement." He called for further studies to evaluate incentives -- financial or otherwise -- to encourage initial and continuing participation in health promotion activities.
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July 20, 2009
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