Costs, benefits and effectiveness of worksite physical activity counseling from the employer's perspective

Scand J Work Environ Health. 2004 Feb;30(1):36-46. doi: 10.5271/sjweh.763.


Objectives: This study evaluated the impact of worksite physical activity counseling using cost-benefit and cost-effectiveness analyses.

Methods: Civil servants (N = 299) were randomly assigned to an intervention (N = 131) or control (N = 168) group for 9 months. The intervention costs were compared with the monetary benefits gained from reduced sick leave. In addition, the intervention costs minus the monetary benefits from sick leave reduction were compared with the effects (percentage meeting the public health recommendation for moderate-intensity physical activity, energy expenditure, cardiorespiratory fitness, and upper extremity symptoms).

Results: The intervention costs were EUR 430 per participant, and the benefits were EUR 125 due to sick leave during the intervention period, for net total costs of EUR 305 for the intervention. During the same 9-month period the year after the intervention, the benefits from sick leave reduction were EUR 635. No statistically significant differences in costs and benefits were found between the groups. As to the cost-effectiveness, improvement in energy expenditure and cardiorespiratory fitness was observed at higher costs. The point estimates of the cost-effectiveness ratios were EUR 5.2 (without imputation of effect data) and EUR 2.7 (with imputation of effect data) per extra kilocalorie of energy expenditure per day and EUR 235 (without imputation of effect data) and EUR 45.9 (with imputation of effect data) per beat per minute of decrease in submaximal heart rate.

Conclusions: This study does not provide a financial reason for implementing worksite counseling intervention on physical activity on the short-term. However, positive effects were shown for energy expenditure and cardiorespiratory fitness.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Counseling / economics*
  • Employer Health Costs / statistics & numerical data*
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Health Priorities
  • Health Promotion / economics*
  • Health Promotion / methods
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands
  • Occupational Health Services / economics*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Sick Leave / economics
  • Sick Leave / statistics & numerical data*
  • Upper Extremity / physiology