Background: The prevalence of health risk behaviours is growing amongst South African employees. Health risk behaviours have been identified as a major contributor to reduced health related quality of life (HRQoL) and the increased prevalence of non-communicable diseases. Worksite wellness programmes promise to promote behaviour changes amongst employees and to improve their HRQoL. The aim of this study was to evaluate the short-term effects of an employee wellness programme on HRQoL, health behaviour change, body mass index (BMI) and absenteeism amongst clothing and textile manufacturing employees.
Methods: The study used a randomised control trial design. The sample consisted of 80 subjects from three clothing manufacturing companies in Cape Town, South Africa. The experimental group was subjected to a wellness programme based on the principles of cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) as well as weekly supervised exercise classes over six weeks. The control group received a once-off health promotion talk and various educational pamphlets, with no further intervention. Measurements were recorded at baseline and at six weeks post-intervention. Outcome measures included the EQ-5D, Stanford Exercise Behaviours Scale, body mass index and absenteeism.Data was analysed with the Statistica-8 software program. Non-parametric tests were used to evaluate the differences in the medians between the two groups and to determine the level of significance. The Sign test was used to determine the within group changes. The Mann-Whitney U test was used to determine the difference between the two groups.
Results: At six weeks post intervention the experimental group (39 subjects) demonstrated improvement in almost every parameter. In contrast, apart from an overall decrease in time off work and a reduction in BMI for all study participants, there was no significant change noted in the behaviour of the control group (41 subjects). Seventy percent of the experimental group had improved HRQoL EQ-5D VAS scores post intervention, indicating improved perceived HRQoL. In comparison, only 58% of the control group had improved HRQoL EQ-5D VAS scores post intervention. There was no significant difference between the two groups at baseline or at six weeks post intervention.
Conclusion: An employee wellness programme based on the principles of CBT combined with weekly aerobic exercise class was beneficial in improving the perceived HRQoL and changing health-related behaviours of clothing manufacturing employees. However, it cannot be concluded that the EWP was more effective than the once off health promotion talk as no significant changes were noted between the two groups at 6-weeks post intervention.This trial has been registered with ClinicalTrials.gov (trial registration number NCT01625039).