Worksite Health Promotion
- LAST REVIEWED: 14 October 2016
- LAST MODIFIED: 24 July 2012
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756797-0031
- LAST REVIEWED: 14 October 2016
- LAST MODIFIED: 24 July 2012
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756797-0031
Worksite health promotion is a relatively young field, with employee fitness programs in the United States emerging in the 1960s and expanding in the 1980s to include other risk factors and wellness topics. The focus in this development was on personal lifestyle, and a primary driver was the rapid increase in employee health-care costs. In Europe, where health-care costs are not borne by employers, worksite health promotion began with a concern about the organization of work and how this influenced the worker. With the approach of the 21st century, these two threads began to come together in the social ecological model of health promotion in the United States and the settings approach of the World Health Organization, amid increasing concerns about productivity in the global economy. From a public health perspective, the workplace is an ideal setting for improving the health status of the population of workers, with spillover to their families. Social and organizational supports can facilitate well-being, healthful behaviors, and disease detection. The evidence base for worksite health promotion is strong and growing, and there is a deep experience base among large companies. The literature in health promotion reflects these roots, appearing both in scientific and professional journals and in corporate organization reports, such as those of the National Business Group on Health (which may not be generally available). The practice of health promotion has matured with a professional focus, a theoretical base, and planning and managerial frameworks. Worksite health promotion is an interdisciplinary endeavor grounded in health and behavioral science, public health, organizational change, and general management.
The need for health promotion is great. Huang, et al. 2011 found that, among employed adults in 2007–2008, 59.3 percent had no influenza vaccination, 49.2 percent were physically inactive, 27.0 percent were obese, and 19.2 percent smoked. The worksite has great potential to improve the health status of working adults. Linnan, et al. 2008 presents the results of the 2004 National Worksite Health Promotion Survey. Large businesses are much more likely than small businesses to have key elements of a comprehensive program, though only 24.1 percent of large businesses and 6.9 percent of the total sample had all five elements. Over 80 percent of worksites with 750 employees or more had employee assistance and back injury programs, blood pressure and blood cholesterol screening, smoking restrictions, prohibition of drug and alcohol use and firearms, and linkage to related health programs. Few overall had programs for physical activity (19.6 percent), weight management (21.4 percent), or smoking cessation (18.6 percent). The 2010 Health Care Cost Survey (Towers Watson 2010) showed large employers planning to increase employee health management, including health promotion and wellness programs and health risk assessment. The Healthy People 2020 Educational and Community Programs Objectives (US Department of Health and Human Services 2010) call for an increased proportion of worksites of all sizes that offer an employee health promotion program, and of employees who participate in a program. Other organizations, such as the American Heart Association, also recommend wellness programs (Carnethon, et al. 2009). The Commission to Build a Healthier America report Beyond Health Care: New Directions to a Healthier America (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation 2009) notes the importance of healthful work and recommends that safety and wellness be integrated into every aspect of community life, and the commission’s Issue Brief 4: Work and Health (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation 2008) provides a detailed review of the relation of work to health and strategies to improve health. Heinen and Darling 2009 describes the efforts of large US employers to address obesity, with 83 percent offering health risk appraisals and 74 percent offering weight management programs in 2008. The main points of leverage are health benefits design and incentives, environmental supports, a culture of health at work, and community and family connections.
Carnethon, M., L. Whitsel, B. A. Franklin, et al. 2009. Worksite wellness programs for cardiovascular disease prevention: A policy statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation 120.7: 1725–1741.
Gives the American Heart Association’s recommendations for worksite wellness programs with an extensive review of the literature to provide rationale and context for the recommendations. Statement made on behalf of the American Heart Association Advocacy Coordinating Committee; the Council on Epidemiology and Prevention; the Council on the Kidney in Cardiovascular Disease; and the Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism.
Heinen, L., and H. Darling. 2009. Addressing obesity at the workplace: the role of employers. Milbank Quarterly 87.1: 101–122.
The authors, from the Washington Business Group on Health, outline the employer perspective on the reduction of obesity and suggest leverage points for intervention.
Huang, Y., P. A. Hannon, B. Williams, and J. R. Harris. 2011. Workers’ health risk behaviors by state, demographic characteristics, and health insurance status. Preventing Chronic Disease 8.1.
Rates of obesity, physical inactivity, smoking, and no influenza vaccination are reported, using 2007 and 2008 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data. Disparities in these behaviors are related to income, education, and race/ethnicity. Smoking and lack of influenza vaccination are related to insurance status.
Linnan, L., M. Bowling, J. Childress, et al. 2008. Results of the 2004 National Worksite Health Promotion Survey. American Journal of Public Health 98.8: 1503–1509.
The results of the 2004 National Health Promotion Survey are presented. This is the most recent representative national sample survey.
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. 2008. Issue brief 4: Work and health. Princeton, NJ: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America.
Provides an overview of the links between work and health, and of work-based strategies to improve health.
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. 2009. Beyond health care: New directions to a healthier America. Princeton, NJ: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America.
Report of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America. The chapter on “Healthy Environments” reviews opportunities and work-based strategies.
Towers Watson. 2010. 2010 Health Care Cost Survey. New York: Towers Watson.
Industry survey of large US companies that shows workforce well-being to have increasing importance.
US Department of Health and Human Services. 2010. Healthy People 2020 Educational and Community-Based Programs Objectives.
Presents national objectives to increase the proportions of worksites that offer employee health promotion programs, and of employees who participate in employer-sponsored worksite health promotion activities.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
How to Subscribe
Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.
- Access to Health Care
- Action Research
- Active Aging
- Active Living
- Adolescent Health, Socioeconomic Inequalities in
- Adolescent Risk-Taking Behavior in the United States
- Advocacy, Public Health
- Agricultural Safety and Public Health
- Air Quality: Health Effects
- Air Quality: Indoor Health Effects
- Alcohol Availability and Violence
- Alternative Research Designs
- Ambient Air Quality Standards and Guidelines
- American Perspectives on Chronic Disease and Control
- Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)
- Arts in Health
- Asthma in Children
- Asthma, Work-Related
- Attachment as a Health Determinant
- Behavior Change Theory in Health Education and Promotion
- Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance
- Bicycling and Cycling Safety
- Birth and Death Registration
- Birth Cohort Studies
- Board of Health
- Built Environment and Health, The
- Business and Corporate Practices
- Cancer Communication Strategies in North America
- Cancer Prevention
- Cancer Screening
- Capacity Building
- Capacity Building for NCDs in LMICs
- Capacity-Building for Applied Public Health in LMIC: A US ...
- Cardiovascular Health and Disease
- Child Labor
- Child Maltreatment
- Children, Air Pollution and
- Children, Injury Risk-Taking Behaviors in
- Children, Obesity in
- Citizen Advisory Boards
- Climate Change and Human Health
- Climate Change: Institutional Response
- Clinical Preventive Medicine
- Community Air Pollution
- Community Development
- Community Gardens
- Community Health Assessment
- Community Health Interventions
- Community Partnerships and Coalitions
- Community-Based Participatory Research
- Complexity and Systems Theory
- Cultural Safety
- Culture and Public Health
- Definition of Health
- Dental Public Health
- Design and Health
- Dietary Guidelines
- Directions in Global Public Health Graduate Education
- Driving and Public Health
- Ecological Approaches
- Enabling Factors
- Environmental Health, Pediatric
- Environmental Laws
- Environmental Protection Agency
- Ethics of Public Health
- Evidence-Based Pediatric Dentistry
- Evidence-Based Public Health Practice
- Family Planning Services and Birth Control
- Food Safety
- Food Security and Food Banks
- Food Systems
- Frail Elderly
- Functional Literacy
- Genomics, Public Health
- Geographic Information Systems
- Geography and Health
- Global Health
- Global Health Diplomacy
- Global Health Promotion
- Global Health Security
- Guide to Community Preventive Services, The
- Health Administration
- Health Communication
- Health Disparities
- Health Education
- Health Impact Assessment
- Health in All Policies
- Health in All Policies in European Countries
- Health Literacy
- Health Literacy and Non-Communicable Diseases
- Health Measurement Scales
- Health Planning
- Health Promoting Hospitals
- Health Promotion
- Health Promotion Foundations
- Health Promotion Workforce Capacity
- Health Promotion Workforce Capacity
- Health Systems of Low and Middle-Income Countries, The
- Healthy People Initiative
- Healthy Public Policy
- Hepatitis C
- High Risk Prevention Strategies
- Human Rights, Health and
- Human Sexuality and Sexual Health: A Western Perspective
- IANPHI and National Public Health Institutes
- Immigrant Populations
- Immunization and Pneumococcal Infection
- Immunization in Pregnancy
- Indigenous Peoples, Public Health and
- Indigenous Populations of North America, Australasia, and ...
- Indoor Air Quality Guidelines
- Infant Mortality
- Internet Applications in Promoting Health Behavior
- Intersectoral Action
- Intersectoral Strategies in Low - Middle Income Countries ...
- Justice, Social
- Knowledge Translation and Exchange
- Knowledge Utilization and Exchange
- Law of Public Health in the United States
- Media Advocacy
- Mental Health
- Mental Health Promotion
- Migrant Health
- Migrant Worker Health
- Motor Vehicle Injury Prevention
- Multi-Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis
- National Association of Local Boards of Health
- National Public Health Institutions
- Needs Assessment
- Needs Assessments in International Disasters and Emergenci...
- Obesity Prevention
- Occupational Cancers
- Occupational Exposure to Benzene
- Occupational Exposure to Erionite
- Occupational Safety and Health
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
- Oral Health Equity for Minority Populations in the United ...
- Ottawa Charter
- Parenting and Work
- Parenting Skills and Capacity
- Participatory Action Research
- Patient Decision Making
- Pesticide Exposure and Pesticide Health Effects
- Physical Activity and Exercise
- Physical Activity Promotion
- Polio Eradication in Pakistan
- Population Aging
- Population Determinants of Unhealthy Foods and Beverages
- Population Health Objectives and Targets
- Precautionary Principle
- Prenatal Health
- Program Evaluation in American Health Education
- Program Planning and Evaluation
- Public Health, History of
- Public Health Surveillance
- Public-Private Partnerships in Public Health Research and ...
- Public-Private Partnerships to Prevent and Manage Obesity ...
- Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment
- Racism as a Structural Determinant of Health
- Radiological and Nuclear Emergencies
- Randomized Controlled Trials
- Real World Evaluation Strategies
- Reducing Obesity-Related Health Disparities in Hispanic an...
- Research Integrity in Public Health
- Resilient Health Systems
- Rural Health in the United States
- Safety, Patient
- School Health Programs in the Pacific Region
- Sex Education in HIV/AIDS Prevention
- Skin Cancer Prevention
- Smoking Cessation
- Social Determinants of Health
- Social Epidemiology
- Social Marketing
- Statistics in Public Health
- STI Networks, Patterns, and Control Strategies
- Sustainable Development Goals
- Systems in the United States, Public Health
- Systems Modeling and Big Data for Non-Communicable Disease...
- Systems Theory in Public Health
- Traditional, Complementary, Alternative, and Integrative M...
- Translation of Science to Practice and Policy
- Traumatic Stress and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Tuberculosis among Adults and the Determinants of Health
- UK Public Health Systems
- Unintentional Injury Prevention
- Urban Health
- Vaccination, Mandatory
- Vaccine Hesitancy
- Violence Prevention
- Water Quality
- Water Quality and Water-Related Disease
- Weight Management in US Occupational Settings
- Welfare States, Public Health and Health Inequalities
- Worksite Health Promotion
- World Health Organization (WHO)