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Older workers benefit from high-tech, high-touch health promotion
Date:4/14/2011

Older workers benefit most from a modest health behavior program when it combines a web-based risk assessment with personal coaching.

University of Illinois at Chicago researchers conducted a randomized trial to evaluate two worksite wellness interventions assessing older workers' health behaviors and outcomes. The findings are available online and will be published in an upcoming issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

The health behaviors that were examined were physical activity, diet, stress reduction and smoking cessation, says Susan Hughes, professor of community health sciences, co-director of the UIC Center for Research on Health and Aging at the Institute for Health Research and Policy, and principal investigator of the study.

The researchers enrolled 423 participants into three study groups: the COACH intervention, a Web-based risk assessment with personal coaching support; the RealAge intervention, a Web-based risk assessment with behavior-specific online modules; and a control group that received printed health-promotion materials.

Participants ranged in age from 40 to 68 and were staff at UIC. Measures of healthy behaviors and weight, body mass index and waist circumference were assessed at baseline, six months after baseline and 12 months after baseline.

"What we found is that there were real differences in uptake between the two groups," Hughes said. "Ninety-five percent of people in the COACH program actually used the COACH intervention, as compared to 59 percent of people in the RealAge arm."

Both COACH and RealAge use websites to provide standardized risk assessments, develop risk appraisals, and give participants suggestions for pursing health-related behavior change. The COACH intervention also incorporates individualized counseling -- by phone and in person -- with a public health-educated coach to assist participants with their health-related goals.

RealAge participants
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Contact: Sherri McGinnis Gonzlez
smcginn@uic.edu
312-996-8277
University of Illinois at Chicago
Source:Eurekalert

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