Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Health, Physical Education, and Recreation

Committee Chair(s)

Edward M. Heath


Edward M. Heath


Phillip J. Waite


Scott C. Bates


Evidence supporting the benefits of worksite health promotion (WHP) programs is extensive. Research shows these programs can improve the health of participants, lower health care costs, and improve the bottom line of employers. Although the evidence of these benefits is vast, reported participation in WHP is not optimal. Little published data exists on employees' perceived incentives and barriers for participation in WHP. The purpose of this study was to determine perceived barriers and incentives for participation in an existing WHP program at a large land-grant university. Opinions of eligible WHP participants were collected using a web-based questionnaire (n = 321). The questionnaire was adapted from questions used in the 2004 HealthStyles survey. Overall percentages and odds ratios of responses were calculated and stratified by demographics. Respondents were 68.5% female, 76.6% were college graduates, 47% were active, and 32.7% had a BMI ≥ 30. The most common reported barrier to using employee wellness services was no time during work day (60.2%). Women were more likely than men to report lack of energy (OR, 4.5; 95% CI, 1.7-11.9) and no time during work day (OR, 2.6; 95% CI, 1.4-4.8) as barriers to participation. Respondents who were underweight and overweight were less likely to report lack of energy than respondents who were obese (OR, 0.2; 95% CI, 0.1-0.6; OR, 0.4; 95% CI, 0.2-0.9). The most common reported incentive was having programs at a convenient time (66.6%). Younger respondents were much more likely to report paid time off work to attend as incentive to participate than respondents 60 or more years (18-29 years OR, 10.8; 95% CI, 2.9-40.1; 30-34 years OR, 4.2; 95% CI, 1.5-11.7; 35-44 years OR, 3.1; 95% CI, 1.3-7.4). Most preferred wellness service or policies were available fitness center (75.9%), health screening tests (75.6%), and paid time to exercise at work (69.6%). The results of this study, combined with an employer's own employee needs assessment, may help universities, and other employers with similar characteristics, design more attractive employee wellness programs. Making employee wellness programs attractive to their potential participants may improve program participation.



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