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Do Workplace Health Promotion (Wellness) Programs Work?

Goetzel, Ron Z. PhD; Henke, Rachel Mosher PhD; Tabrizi, Maryam PhD, MS; Pelletier, Kenneth R. PhD, MD (hc); Loeppke, Ron MD, MPH; Ballard, David W. PsyD, MBA; Grossmeier, Jessica PhD, MPH; Anderson, David R. PhD, LP; Yach, Derek MBChB, MPH; Kelly, Rebecca K. PhD, RD, CDE; McCalister, Tre' MA, EdD; Serxner, Seth PhD; Selecky, Christobel MA; Shallenberger, Leba G. DrPh; Fries, James F. MD; Baase, Catherine MD; Isaac, Fikry MD, MPH; Crighton, K. Andrew MD; Wald, Peter MD, MPH; Exum, Ellen BS; Shurney, Dexter MD, MBA, MPH; Metz, R. Douglas DC

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: September 2014 - Volume 56 - Issue 9 - p 927–934
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000276
Fast Track Article

Objective: To respond to the question, “Do workplace health promotion programs work?”

Methods: A compilation of the evidence on workplace programs' effectiveness coupled with recommendations for critical review of outcome studies. Also, reviewed are recent studies questioning the value of workplace programs.

Results: Evidence accumulated over the past three decades shows that well-designed and well-executed programs that are founded on evidence-based principles can achieve positive health and financial outcomes.

Conclusions: Employers seeking a program that “works” are urged to consider their goals and whether they have an organizational culture that can facilitate success. Employers who choose to adopt a health promotion program should use best and promising practices to maximize the likelihood of achieving positive results.

From Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health—Institute for Health and Productivity Studies (Dr Goetzel) and Truven Health Analytics (Drs Goetzel and Tabrizi), Bethesda, Md; Truven Health Analytics (Dr Henke), Cambridge, Mass; University of Arizona School of Medicine and University of California San Francisco School of Medicine (Dr Pelletier); US Preventive Medicine (Dr Loeppke), Jacksonville, Fla; American Psychological Association (Dr Ballard), Washington, DC; StayWell (Drs Grossmeier and Anderson), St Paul, Minn; The Vitality Institute (Dr Yach), New York, NY; The University of Alabama (Dr Kelly), Tuscaloosa; Mercer (Dr McCalister), Austin, Tex; Optum (Dr Serxner), San Francisco, Calif; Population Health Alliance (Dr Selecky), Washington, DC; Exxon Mobil Corporation (Dr Shallenberger), Houston, Tex; Stanford University School of Medicine (Dr Fries), Palo Alto, Calif; The Dow Chemical Company (Dr Baase), Midland, Mich; Johnson & Johnson (Dr Isaac), New Brunswick; Prudential Financial (Dr Crighton), Newark, NJ; USAA (Dr Wald), San Antonio, Tex; IBM Corporation (Ms Exum), Somers, NY; Cummins, Inc (Dr Shurney), Columbus, Ind; and American Specialty Health (Dr Metz), San Diego, Calif.

Address correspondence to: Ron Z. Goetzel, PhD, Institute for Health and Productivity Studies, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Truven Health Analytics, 7700 Old Georgetown Rd, Ste 650, Bethesda, MD 20814 (

Funding for this study was provided by American Specialty Health.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Copyright © 2014 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine