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The Workforce Wellness Index: A Method for Valuing US Workers' Health

Goetzel, Ron Z. PhD; Pickens, Gary T. PhD; Kowlessar, Niranjana M. PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: March 2013 - Volume 55 - Issue 3 - p 272–279
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e318278274e
Original Articles

Objective: To devise a methodology to create a single health risk–cost score that can be applied to health risk assessment survey data and account for the medical costs associated with modifiable risks.

Methods: We linked person-level health risk assessment data with medical benefit eligibility and claims data for 341,650 workers for the period 2005 to 2010 and performed multivariate analyses to estimate costs associated with high risks. We used the estimated costs and risk prevalence rates to create a composite Workforce Wellness Index (WWI) score.

Results: Increasing obesity rates among employees was found to be the most important contributor to increased health care spending and the main reason the WWI score worsened over time.

Conclusions: Employers that address employees' health risk factors may be able to reduce their medical spending and achieve an improvement in their WWI scores.

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From Truven Health Analytics (Drs Goetzel and Pickens), Washington, DC; and Institute for Health and Productivity Studies (Dr Goetzel), Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Washington, DC.

Address correspondence to: Ron Z. Goetzel, PhD, Institute for Health and Productivity Studies, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, and Consulting and Applied Research, Truven Health Analytics, 4301 Connecticut Ave, NW, Suite #330, Washington, DC 20008 (

No external funding was provided for the preparation of this article.

The opinions expressed in this article are of the authors and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Truven Health Analytics or Emory University.

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citation appears in the printed text and is provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal's Web site (

©2013The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine