Commonly accepted health management best practices are not always effective, a population health management company has found.
Investigating industry practice on workplace health, StayWell Health Management research, published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, shows Age, gender and health status heavily influence the effectiveness of industry best practices, varying the degree of influence or outcomes.
"One of the most interesting findings from this study is support for something called ‘The Herd Effect,' which means people tend to behave like their peers around them," said Paul Terry, Ph.D., chief science officer for StayWell and lead author on the study.
"For example, if a worksite is predominantly male, then male employees will tend to participate or change behaviours in a similar manner to their male co-workers. Women, on the other hand, may be less likely to adopt these same behaviours.
"However, if a male-dominated company follows best practices, the women may be more likely to buck the majority trend to overcome this herd effect."
It also found
• Non-cash incentives, such as a T-shirt or duffel bag for participation in coaching programs actually decreased enrolment in coaching programs;
• While companies that used a non-cash incentive saw lower overall enrolment, offering a cash incentive did not necessarily lead to greater levels of active participation in coaching programs once individuals were enrolled;
• When biometric screenings were offered, older employees were more likely to enrol in coaching programs.
• In general, females and older individuals were more likely to enrol, but this was not true for all companies.
• The use of onsite wellness champion networks improved behaviour change for older adults.
Jessica Grossmeier, vice president of research at StayWell and principal investigator on the study, said: "The outcomes associated with applying best practices to your workplace health management program have not been well-established.
"More specifically, we found that a person's age, gender and current health status directly influence how they respond to best-practice program elements as well as how these factors combine to influence overall employee participation and behaviour change."