NIOSH Study Shows Limited Use of Health Promotion Programs

"Workers have different needs and circumstances, depending on factors such as occupation, working night shifts, or being paid by the hour," said Dr. Rebecca Tsai, epidemiologist and lead author of the study. "We recommend that employers tailor their workplace health promotion programs based on their specific work organization characteristics in order to maximize participation."

new study published in the American Journal of Health Promotion by researchers at NIOSH found that close to 47 percent of workers have access to workplace health promotion programs, and among those with access, only 58 percent take advantage of them. The agency pointed out that work sites, where most working adults spend their time, are an ideal place to offer programs that could improve workers' physical and mental health. But many workers with access to workplace health promotion programs had never participated in any of the programs.

The authors reported that the availability of workplace health promotion programs increased as education, family income, and personal earnings increased. In addition, workers ages 30 to 64 were more likely than younger workers to participate in the programs.

The occupation with the highest availability of workplace health promotion programs was computer and mathematical l (76.1 percent) while workers in farming, fishing, and forestry (3.1 percent), food preparation and serving related (17.2percent), and construction and extraction (23.7 percent) occupations reported the lowest availability.

Occupations with the highest participation, given the availability of the programs, were arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media (68.4 percent); management (68 percent); and community and social services (66.7 percent). Farming, fishing, and forestry (26 percent); food preparation and serving related (42.4 percent); and construction and extraction (45.3 percent) were found to be least likely to participate.

"Workers have different needs and circumstances, depending on factors such as occupation, working night shifts, or being paid by the hour," said Dr. Rebecca Tsai, epidemiologist and lead author of the study. "We recommend that employers tailor their workplace health promotion programs based on their specific work organization characteristics in order to maximize participation."

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