Purpose: Health promotion policy frameworks, recent theorizing, and research all emphasize understanding and mobilizing environmental influences to change particular health-related behaviors in specific settings. The workplace is a key environmental setting. The Checklist of Health Promotion Environments at Worksites (CHEW) was designed as a direct observation instrument to assess characteristics of worksite environments that are known to influence health-related behaviors.
Methods: The CHEW is a 112-item checklist of workplace environmental features hypothesized to be associated, both positively and negatively, with physical activity, healthy eating, alcohol consumption, and smoking. The three environmental domains assessed are (1) physical characteristics of the worksite, (2) features of the information environment, and (3) characteristics of the immediate neighborhood around the workplace. The conceptual rationale and development studies for the CHEW are described, and data from observational studies of 20 worksites are reported.
Results: The data on CHEW-derived environmental attributes showed generally good reliability and identified meaningful sets of variables that plausibly may influence health-related behaviors. With the exception of one information environment attribute, intraclass correlation coefficients ranged from 0.80 to 1.00. Descriptive statistics on selected physical and information environment characteristics indicated that vending machines, showers, bulletin boards, and signs prohibiting smoking were common across worksites. Bicycle racks, visible stairways, and signs related to alcohol consumption, nutrition, and health promotion were relatively uncommon.
Conclusions: These findings illustrate the types of data on environmental attributes that can be derived, their relevance for program planning, and how they can characterize variability across worksites. The CHEW is a promising observational measure that has the potential to assess environmental influences on health behaviors and to evaluate workplace health promotion programs.