Wellness Programs & Library Outreach
Employee wellness programs range from offering discounts on gym memberships to extensive biometric testing and health tracking supported (or mandated) by an employer. Michaels and Greene note that “employers are uniquely positioned to influence health for the better by offering workplace health promotion programs.” These programs “help reduce direct and indirect health care costs, absenteeism, and presenteeism; avoid illness or injury; and improve the quality of work life and morale.”
RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research organization, completed a survey of workplace wellness programs for the Department of Labor. The results of the survey were published in 2013 as the Workplace Wellness Programs Study. Their survey found that about half of U.S. employers offer some form of wellness program. Program offerings include “lifestyle management services to help workers make positive changes in their health-related behaviors,” disease screening (e.g., blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol), and disease management services, which provide guidance for employees living with chronic conditions like diabetes.
It’s expected that the number of wellness programs will continue to grow under the Affordable Care Act, which has expanded existing rules for the use of wellness programs, as well as because of increasing concern about the rising costs of health care and the importance of disease prevention.
In 2011, the National Institute of Health Care Management Foundation released a report identifying 16 “essential and highly desirable” features of a wellness program. Four of these:
- Tailored and personalized intervention
- Multimodal communication and intervention delivery strategies
- Population based educational resources and self-management tools
- Consumer medical decision support
can be linked to access and use of health information. Medical libraries are uniquely placed to provide this information directly to patients and consumers or indirectly through an employee wellness program. Studies have shown that health information provided by medical librarians can impact consumer attitudes, communications, and diagnosis, treatment, or lifestyle choices.
Medical libraries are familiar with the resources available for free through the National Library of Medicine’s Medline Plus service. The consumer-oriented articles supplement information provided by physicians and other health care providers and can support workplace wellness program activities.
 Earl M, Oelschlegel S, Breece A. Impact of a consumer and patient health information service on user satisfaction, attitudes, and patient-health care professional interactions. Journal of Consumer Health on the Internet. 2012;16(2):192.
Funded by the National Library of Medicine through a subcontract under HHSN276201200013I