Employee wellness program: participation rates among obese employees and selection patterns of available alternative activities


Aurora Research Institute

Presentation Notes

Presented at 2014 Aurora Scientific Day, Milwaukee, WI


Background: This research was performed to evaluate the inaugural year of implementing an incentivized healthy weight option as part of Live Well Aurora. Obesity is a problem for both individuals and the organizations that provide health insurance to obese employees. Health care costs are increasing for employers and employees; a novel way to decrease the cost of health insurance is to encourage employees to become healthier.

Purpose: To retrospectively examine possible demographic differences between those who participate in an employee wellness program (EWP) and those who do not, and to identify distribution of alternative activity selections.

Methods: This quasiexperimental study used a nonequivalent two-group design: Aurora Health Care employees who participated in EWP and those who did not. Aurora weighed 19,771 employees with mean body mass index (BMI) of 28.9; 6,375 (35%) caregivers were obese (defined as BMI ≥ 30), and of those, 3,094 (47%) chose alternative activities. Five alternative activities were offered to employees: (1) lose 5% of body weight, (2) Healthy Solutions ® at home, (3) Weight Watchers group meetings, (4) Weight Watchers online, and (5) Aurora- directed healthy weight coaching. Chi-square tests were used for all categorical variables; logistic regression was used to predict participation factors.

Results: Overall, 47% of obese employees participated in the wellness program. Participation was higher among females, whites, those age > 50 years, and staff (as compared to nurses).

Conclusion: Participation rate varied significantly based on demographic variables. Targeting 5% weight loss was the most popular alternative activity.

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