Monday, January 22, 2018
Workplace wellness program: no effect on total medical expenditures, health behaviors, employee productivity, or self-reported health status
Workplace wellness programs cover over 50 million workers and are intended to reduce medical spending, increase productivity, and improve well-being. Yet, limited evidence exists to support these claims.
For this study researchers designed and implemented a comprehensive workplace wellness program for a large employer with over 12,000 employees, and randomly assigned program eligibility and financial incentives at the individual level. Over 56 percent of eligible (treatment group) employees participated in the program.
The researchers find strong patterns of selection: during the year prior to the intervention, program participants had lower medical expenditures and healthier behaviors than non-participants. However, they not find significant causal effects of treatment on total medical expenditures, health behaviors, employee productivity, or self-reported health status in the first year. A 95% confidence intervals rule out 78 percent of previous estimates on medical spending and absenteeism.