Study: Wellness programs improve health

March 25, 2012 at 11:28 PM

CHICAGO, March 25 (UPI) -- Chicago-area employers that use incentives to entice employees to get health screenings see improved health outcomes, a survey found.

Brent Estes, president and chief executive officer of Rush Health, a not-for-profit organization whose members include Rush University Medical Center, said the survey showed a number of Chicago-area employers tie incentives to health screening results.

The survey was completed by 361 organizations representing a broad spectrum of industries in the Chicago healthcare marketplace.

Wellness programs varied by organization, but activities included health-risk assessments, questionnaires, screenings for blood-pressure and cholesterol, and smoking cessation, weight management and nutrition programs.

Also included in the wellness programs were group walking at work, better selection of healthy eating options at work, and monitoring programs to identify participation levels, satisfaction, reductions in risk factors and changes in health behavior.

"The wellness survey showed that employers target lifestyle habits to improve the health of employees," Estes said in a statement. "Keeping people healthy isn't merely a booming trend; it's a necessary part of life."

A total of 81 percent of employers target lifestyle habits that focus on physical activity, tobacco use and weight management programs, the study found.

Of the organizations that focus programs on specific conditions, diabetes was most popular at 72 percent; followed by high blood pressure, heart disease and obesity.

The survey was conducted in September by Aon Hewitt in partnership with Rush Health.

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