Even with relatively low participation rates, a comprehensive workplace health promotion (WHP) can have a moderate impact on worker health, according to an analysis of a large Finnish company published in the November Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

The study involved an eight-year evaluation of the WHP implemented at a Finnish wood supply company, one which offered health risk appraisal (HRAs) and screening, along with education and support services aimed at improving employee health.

Rates decreased over time

Researchers Antti Hermanni Äikäs, MSc, of University of Jyväskylä and colleagues found that the program succeeded in helping participants make healthy lifestyle changes and achieve improved health screening results – despite a declining participation rate. In 2010 – the beginning of the study time frame - 86 percent of employees participated in HRAs and 80 percent completed health screenings. However, over the eight year span of the program, the percentage of workers participating at least once shrank to 58 percent.

Health improvement instead of declines

The study determined that the 18 percent net health impact achieved in 2010-13 and 14 percent in 2014-17 was “relatively strong” when compared to expected declines in health that would have occurred without a WHP. Its authors say further research is needed to clarify the health risk changes achieved and the financial impact of the improvements in employee health.

Source: ACOEM (www.acoem.org), an international society of 4,500 occupational physicians and other health care professionals, provides leadership to promote optimal health and safety of workers, workplaces, and environments.