Worksite-based Settings

Given that most adults spend many of their waking hours at work, worksites are a potentially useful place to encourage employees to prevent and manage diabetes. Worksites may include interventions focused on the individual, the physical environment (e.g., availability of fruits and vegetables at an on-site cafeteria or walking trails to promote exercise during breaks), or changes in policies to support access (e.g., 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., education about diabetes management through glucose monitoring and taking medication).

In developing your intervention, it is important to consider the feasibility of engaging in these various strategies and to consider alternatives as appropriate. For example, many small businesses find it useful and cost-effective to work with existing community programs to support employees or their families with diabetes education off-site. It is also important that the opportunities created are flexible enough to meet the needs of a wide variety of employees.

Previous work in worksite-based settings has found:

  • Worksite settings have the potential to reach a large population of adults so diabetes education interventions are desirable. Information can be sent home with workers to address the family.
  • Since the majority of adults are employed, the worksite represents a large, accessible audience for diabetes education efforts. Workers are generally healthier than their non-working counterparts, so they are excellent candidates for primary prevention.
  • The worksite has been endorsed as an excellent place to establish diabetes education 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 diabetes education programs since it provides an opportunity to make environmental, structural, and policy changes that support educational messages (e.g., healthy food options in the cafeteria, fitness centers or walking trails) and it provides the ability to provide social support for health enhancing behaviors.
  • Diabetes education programs in the workplace can result in fewer overall days absent, reduced short-term disability days and lower health costs relating to diabetes and complications of the disease.

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