An examination of the effectiveness of work-site health promotion programs: an "ideal" type approach

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Virginia Tech

This study empirically examines the relationship between an ideal health promotion program profile and those actually in existence in the workplace. It is argued that those firms with health promotion programs most clearly matching the ideal profile will perform better than those firms with programs that do not achieve such a match. A hypothesis built on this central proposition is developed and tested based on the Winett, King and Altman (1989) integrative theoretical framework.

Using a National Institute of Health (NIH) secondary data base, which originally contained 1,378 firms, this empirical effort generated the actual health promotion program profiles from a subsample of the available firm data. Tests of the hypothesis revealed some performance implications associated with differences in health promotion program designs.

It is hypothesized that those firms with health promotion programs containing multiple intervention strategies administered at multiple levels of application would perform at a higher level than those lacking in multilevel design configurations. Findings show that the only consistent positive performance implication for deviations from an ideal health promotion program profile was related to employee participation and to a lesser extent turnover. No significant relationships are found for profit. Consistent with other research efforts, longitudinal analysis may be required to evaluate long-term performance measures such as profit and turnover.

This study is the first effort in applying a comprehensive approach to the examination of work-site health promotion effectiveness. Future efforts can now be directed towards longitudinal analysis.