Results of a workplace health campaign: what can be achieved?

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BACKGROUND: Effective health promotion in the workplace is now essential because of the rising health-related costs for businesses, the increasing pressure arising from international competition, prolonged working lives, and the aging of the work force. The basic problem of prevention campaigns is that the target groups are too rarely reached and sustainable benefits too rarely achieved. In 2011, we carried out a broad-based health and fitness campaign to assess how many personnel could be motivated to participate in a model study under nearly ideal conditions.

METHOD: 1010 personnel were given the opportunity to participate in various kinds of sports, undergo sports-medicine examinations, attend monthly expert lectures, and benefit from nutritional offerings and Intranet information during work hours. Pseudonymized questionnaires were used to classify the participants according to their exercise behavior as non-active, not very active, and very active. The participants' subjective responses (regarding, e.g., health, exercise, nutrition, and the factors that motivated them to participate in sports or discouraged them from doing so) were recorded, as were their objective data (measures of body size and strength). The duration of the study was one year.

RESULTS: 490 of the 1010 personnel (48.5%, among whom 27.2% were nonactive, 44.1% not very active, and 28.7% very active) participated in the initial questionnaire and testing. By the end of the study, this figure had dropped to 17.8%; diminished participation affected all three groups to a comparable extent. A comparison of dropouts and non-dropouts revealed that older age was a stable predictor for drop-out (bivariate odds ratio [OR] 1.028, p = 0.006; multivariate OR 1.049, p = 0.009). The study participants reported beneficial effects on their health and health awareness, performance ability, psychological balance, stress perception, exercise and dietary behavior.

CONCLUSION: Even under optimal conditions and with high use of staff resources, this model study (which cannot be universally implemented) did not lead to comprehensive and sustained personnel participation. This finding suggests that the currently available prevention instruments are insufficient for the effective and cost-efficient promotion of health and fitness in the workplace.

Original languageGerman
JournalDeutsches Ärzteblatt international
Issue number18
Pages (from-to)320-7
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 02.05.2014

ID: 246364

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