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Marketing Workplace Chronic Disease Prevention

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Health Behavior, Chronic Disease

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Trial Information

Marketing Workplace Chronic Disease Prevention

Employers have the incentive and the means to play a key role in chronic disease prevention.
The incentive - employers need to control the costly and growing burden of chronic diseases
among their employees. The means - employers purchase 94% of private health insurance, and
employees spend one third of their lives in the workplace, where they often eat, move,
socialize, and smoke. Over the past 5 years, the CDC and the Task Force on Community
Preventive Services have recommended a number of chronic disease prevention practices. Among
these, we have identified 17 practices that employers should adopt. These practices include
health insurance benefits, workplace policies, and workplace programs, and aim at increasing
employees' disease screening, healthy eating, influenza immunization, physical activity and
tobacco cessation. Unfortunately, employer surveys reveal low adoption of these practices.

Working with the American Cancer Society, our research team from the University of
Washington has developed and pilot-tested an innovative consulting intervention to increase
adoption of these practices. Our two-stage intervention is comprehensive yet tailored by
employer feedback.

The intervention:

- markets the "business case" that employers can help control health-care costs and
productivity losses through adoption of these practices

- enables implementation by providing tools for each practice.

In this proposal, our primary aim is to test this intervention in a randomized, controlled
trial among 48 medium-sized employers with a high proportion of socioeconomically
disadvantaged employees in the Puget Sound area. Our primary outcome is change in employer
practices as measured by survey and validated by audit and contract and policy review.

Our secondary aims include:

- development and pilot-testing of an employee-level health risk behavior survey

- cost analysis and assessment of feasibility of our intervention

- assessment of employees' preference for different message sources and message appeals.

Our multidisciplinary research team includes business, communication, and public health
faculty and has more than 10 years of experience in both chronic disease prevention and
working with business. If successful, our team's approach has broad applicability to other
public health problems.

Inclusion Criteria:

- Corporate size equal to 100 to 999 part-time and full-time employees (excluding
seasonal and temporary workers)

- Headquarters located in King County, Washington, and in a zip code within a 30 mile
radius of the research center

- Within an industry with an average annual salary below the median annual salary for
King County, Washington (defined by 3-digit NAICS code)

- 50% or more employees are age 35 or older

Exclusion Criteria:

- Do not offer health insurance to full-time employees

- In existence for less than 3 years

- No physical address to which employees report

- Current or previous participation in other workplace health promotion study

- Recent refuser or non-responder for other current workplace health promotion study

- Current participant in other American Cancer Society employer program

- Not willing to be randomized to intervention or comparison group

Type of Study:


Study Design:

Allocation: Randomized, Endpoint Classification: Efficacy Study, Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment, Masking: Open Label, Primary Purpose: Prevention

Outcome Measure:

Change in employer practices in health benefits, policies and programs

Outcome Time Frame:

15 month follow-up survey

Safety Issue:


Principal Investigator

Jeffrey R Harris, MD, MPH, MBA

Investigator Role:

Principal Investigator

Investigator Affiliation:

University of Washington


United States: Institutional Review Board

Study ID:

06-4829-E/G 01



Start Date:

April 2007

Completion Date:

September 2009

Related Keywords:

  • Health Behavior
  • Chronic Disease
  • Chronic Disease
  • Employer Health Costs
  • Health Promotion
  • Insurance Benefits
  • Marketing of Health Services
  • Mass Screening
  • Prevention & Control
  • Tobacco Use Cessation
  • Workplace
  • Chronic Disease



University of Washington Seattle, Washington  98195