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Differences Between Descriptive and Multivariate Estimates of the Impact of Chevron Corporation's Health Quest Program on Medical Expenditures

Goetzel, Ron Z. PhD; Dunn, Rodney L. MS; Ozminkowski, Ronald J. PhD; Satin, Kenneth DrPH; Whitehead, D'Ann PsyD; Cahill, Kimberly MSBA

Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine: June 1998 - Volume 40 - Issue 6 - p 538-545
Original Articles

This investigation focused on alternative methods for evaluating the impact of Chevron Corporation's Health Quest Fitness Center program on medical expenditures, comparing descriptive and multivariate research designs. Many uncontrolled studies of corporate health management programs base estimates of program effectiveness on descriptive analyses such as Student's t tests. Unlike more sophisticated multivariate analyses, descriptive analyses often produce biased estimates of program cost savings. To test alternative research design methods, the investigators compared inpatient and pharmacy expenditures for program participants and non-participants over a 2.5-year period, using descriptive and multivariate regression analyses. Results showed that compared with non-participants, expenditures for participants were significantly lower for subjects who used a Health Quest fitness center at least twice weekly. Previous descriptive studies suggested a much broader impact. The results underscore the need to use multivariate analyses when evaluating the financial impact of corporate health management programs, especially when randomization cannot be used to assign participation status.

From the MEDSTAT Group, Inc., Washington, DC (Dr Goetzel), Ann Arbor, Mich. (Mr Dunn, Dr Ozminkowski), and San Francisco, Calif. (Ms Cahill); and the Chevron Corporation, San Francisco, Calif. (Dr Satin, Dr Whitehead).

Work on this project was funded by Chevron Corporation. The opinions expressed in this paper are the authors' and do not necessarily reflect corporate positions taken by The MEDSTAT Group, Inc. or Chevron Corporation.

Address correspondence to: Ronald J. Ozminkowski, PhD, The MEDSTAT Group, Inc., 777 East Eisenhower Parkway, Suite 500, Ann Arbor, MI 48108.

© Williams & Wilkins 1998. All Rights Reserved.