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An analysis of pros and cons of health education at the workplace

m rewarding employees who make positive health changes. Partnering with health plans may avoid some of the confidentiality and other barriers to worksite HP/DP programs.

Ultimately, the success of health promotion programs depends on employee participation. It has been debated that shifting health costs from employers to employees will give workers incentives to decrease their costs, but this has yet to be proven. Despite the obvious benefits of improved health, many people do not want to change their behavior, even if they're aware of the health risks. Several studies have found that other incentives are needed to increase employee participation in HP/DP programs.

Historically, the federal government has provided only modest support for prevention, including HP/DP programs. Signs this may be changing include the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health's "Steps to a Healthier U.S. Workforce Initiative," designed to integrate healthy lifestyle promotion into workplace safety initiatives.

For professionals in the occupational health fields, HP/DP programs offer an opportunity to expand their role. By broadening their traditional emphasis on environmental health and safety, occupational health professionals can incorporate risk-reduction strategies into a spectrum of services supporting a healthy work environment and managing employee health. "The time is right for occupational and environmental physicians to vigorously collaborate with all the key stakeholders in HP/DP to create the integrated health protection and promotion programs of the 21st century," the authors conclude.

ACOEM, an international society of more than 5,000 occupational physicians and other health care professionals, provides leadership to promote optimal health and safety of workers, workplaces, and environments.

Source: Newswise
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