Purpose: The purpose of this article is to critically review evaluation studies of the health-related effects (i.e., health risk modification and reduction in worker absenteeism) of multicomponent worksite health promotion programs.
Search method: A comprehensive literature search conducted under the auspices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified 36 articles that examined health-related outcomes of multi-component programs. The authors identified 11 additional articles through manual searches of recent journal issues and through personal contacts with worksite health promotion researchers. Forty-seven studies describing the results of 35 worksite health promotion programs were reviewed.
Important findings: The worksite health promotion programs reviewed for this article varied tremendously in the comprehensiveness, intensity, and duration of the intervention activities. All of the programs provided health education to employees. In a majority of the programs, opportunities to learn and practice new skills were also offered. A smaller number of programs incorporated modifications in organizational policy or the physical work environment. Results from well-conducted randomized trials suggest that providing opportunities for individual risk reduction counseling for high risk employees within the context of comprehensive programming may be the critical component of an effective worksite health promotion program. Just offering low intensity, short duration programs aimed at increasing awareness of health issues for the entire employee population may not be sufficient to achieve desired outcomes.
Major conclusions: The results of the studies reviewed provide both cautious optimism about the effectiveness of these worksite programs and some general guidance as to the critical components and characteristics of successful programs. Overall, the evidence suggests that a rating of indicative/acceptable may best characterize this literature.