Can Organizations Benefit from Worksite Health Promotion?

In this article, the author describes a decision-analytic model for projecting savings to an employer from instigating health care promotion programs in the workplace. The model confines itself to benefits gained from avoiding chronic disease and motor vehicle injuries. The estimated worksite cost of preventable illness is calculated to project savings from health promotion programs. The model developed for this analysis is based on the decision-theoretic method which generates expected values of future occurrences.

It takes three major elements into account:

  1. the employer's cost of an illness;
  2. the probability of an illness among employees; and
  3. the proportion of illnesses that can realistically be avoided by introducing a health promotion intervention.

Four workplace risk-reduction activities are examined: hypertension control; smoking cessation; cholesterol reduction; and seat belt campaigns. Costs and savings are calculated over a five-year span and are given for employees between the ages of 18 and 65. Costs are adjusted for expected increase of pension outlays. The author used previous studies to help in the development of the model. Various sensitivity analyses were used after designing an initial set of standard projections. Employers are understandably concerned with the bottom line. Given credible projections of savings, advocates for health promotion programs in the workplace have a better chance of gaining approval from businesses.