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Impacts of Workplace Health Promotion and Wellness Programs on Health Care Utilization and Costs

Results From an Academic Workplace

Dement, John M. PhD; Epling, Carol MD, MSPH; Joyner, Julie BA; Cavanaugh, Kyle MEd, MBA

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: November 2015 - Volume 57 - Issue 11 - p 1159–1169
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000555

Objective: This study evaluated the impacts of a long-standing workplace health promotion (HP) program on health care utilization and costs and estimated return on investment (ROI).

Methods: Analyses used a retrospective, observational cohort design based on 7 years (2005 to 2011) of health claims and HP program participation data for 3829 HP participants and 6617 controls. Inverse propensity score-weighted mixed-model regression methods were used to balance employee demographics and comorbidities by study arm.

Results: Mean monthly health care costs were $35 less for HP participants compared with controls, and results were robust based on sensitivity analyses. ROI was estimated to be $2.53 for every dollar spent on the HP program.

Conclusions: Results support a positive impact of HP program participation with regard to reduced health care utilization and costs and a positive ROI.

Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (Dr Dement, Dr Epling), Duke University Medical Center; Duke Occupational Health and Wellness (Ms Joyner); and Duke Human Resources (Mr Cavanaugh), Durham, North Carolina.

Address correspondence to: John M. Dement, PhD, Professor, Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Department of Community and Family Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, 2200 W. Main Street, Suite 400, Durham, NC 27705 (

This work was partially funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (R01-OH099468).

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Copyright © 2015 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine