Given that most adults spend many of their waking hours at work, worksites are a potentially useful place for interventions aiming to prevent heart disease and stoke. Worksites may include interventions focused on the individual (e.g., knowledge, awareness), the physical environment (e.g., availability of fruits and vegetables at an on-site cafeteria, walking trails to promote exercise during breaks) or changes in policies to support access (e.g., smoke-free workplace, reduced costs for nutritious foods, flex-time to engage in physical activity). Some worksite programs or policies have been offered by management and others have been developed jointly through labor and management negotiations. There are also interventions that have been developed to build support for employees and their families (e.g., health insurance benefit plans).
Worksite-based interventions are most effective when linked to interventions in other settings:
- Community-based settings (e.g., sponsor community events to increase awareness in the community about the importance of heart disease prevention and stroke)
- School-based settings (e.g., provide resources and incentives to schools to support heart disease and stroke interventions)
- Faith-based settings (e.g., allow faith-based organizations to use worksite facilities or equipment to host events on heart disease and stroke)
- Health care facility-based settings (e.g., institute worksite policies that provide health insurance benefits to employees and their families for preventive behaviors)
- Home-based settings (e.g., encourage employees to serve as role models for their families by promoting healthy living)
Previous work in worksite-based settings has found:
- Many small businesses find it useful and cost-effective to work with existing community-based organizations and programs to support employees and their families with heart disease and stroke education, resources and support off-site.
- Since the majority of adults are employed, the worksite represents a large, accessible audience for heart disease and stroke efforts. Worksite settings are desirable because they have the potential to reach a large population of adults. Information, resources and benefits provided through worksites can affect the behaviors and health status of family members, too.
- The worksite has been endorsed as an excellent place to establish heart disease and stroke interventions because this setting allows an opportunity to conduct multiple and repeated interventions for a somewhat captive audience.
- The workplace is a viable site for heart disease and stroke interventions since it provides an opportunity to make environmental, structural and policy changes that support educational programs (e.g., healthy food options in the cafeteria, fitness centers or walking trails), while also offering social support for health-enhancing behaviors.
- Heart disease and stroke interventions in the workplace can result in fewer overall days absent, reduced short-term disability days and lower health costs.
- Worksite interventions allow easy access to large numbers of individuals and an opportunity for follow-up and reinforcement.
- It can be challenging to find times for group education and other activities that are convenient for both worksite operations and employee schedules. It is important that the opportunities created are flexible enough to meet the needs of a wide variety of employees.
- The creation of an exercise space at worksites can serve as an incentive for physical activity.
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