Employee health program improves blood pressure, diabetes control

ployees also chose the exercise classes and took over most of the day-to-day administration of what has expanded into seven fitness centers at various company facilities.

"Over the years, the company began to notice benefits to helping workers stay fit," Clark said. "The program has grown to where it is now part of the company's strategic plan."

For the study, JEA teamed up with its healthcare provider, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Florida and with Pfizer Global Pharmaceuticals in Jacksonville.

With their help, the company expanded its safety and health program into a comprehensive wellness system that includes live and written health education information, health screenings, coaching and an incentive program to encourage participation.

Researchers, collecting mounds of data during the three years of follow-up, attempted to quantify the effects of lifestyle-changing activities aimed at reducing cardiovascular disease risks such as smoking, excess weight, high blood pressure and diabetes.

The backbone of the program is the Health Risk Assessment (HRA), a screening tool that includes measures of employees' health through blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol testing. It also includes a 60-question survey that asks about current health status, family history, daily nutrition, physical activity, the use of alcohol and tobacco, safe habits (such as seat belt usage), stress and depression, use of available medical screening tests and gender-related health questions.

The survey ends by asking questions that measure how willing an employee is to make lifestyle changes related to health and safety, and providing coaching to accomplish that change.

"Just knowing about something doesn't make you change," Clark said. "So the last part of the HRA is one-on-one coaching."

Employees are asked what they want to change first, such as weight, blood pressure or diabetes control. The coaching, set up through the health insurance compan

Contact: Karen Astle
American Heart Association

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