New Study Finds Wellness Programs Reduce Health Risks in Colorado Workers

-First statewide examination of more than 300 employers shows declines in every risk factor-


Denver, Co, United States – WEBWIRE – Wednesday, April 02, 2014

April 2, 2014

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Lu Stasko, The Stasko Agency
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For Immediate Release

DENVER, CO -– Early findings from the first study of statewide wellness programs reveal reductions in health risks in workers receiving wellness services. The study is charged with determining the impact of wellness programs on health risks, productivity and workers’ compensation costs.

The study, which is examining worksites using Pinnacol Assurance’s Health Risk Management program, shows that program participants have experienced a 25 percent drop in cancer risk, a 35 percent decline in smoking rates and a 25 percent reduction in depression risk in just three years.

“We’re seeing improvements in health throughout Colorado and for businesses of all sizes,” said Karen Curran, Pinnacol’s Director of Health Risk Management. “While we’ve known the impact wellness programs have had on large organizations, these results show that wellness programs also work extremely well for small businesses. While the study has shown that wellness programs have reduced health risks and improved productivity, data on workers’ compensation costs is not yet available because researchers are still gathering a critical mass of claims information. ”

Participants in the Health Risk Management program have also decreased stress risks by 23 percent and have shown double-digit improvements in fitness and nutrition levels. Researchers have seen a decline in almost all chronic condition groups as well as a 12.5 percent decrease in the number of participants with three or more chronic conditions. 

Curran will present three years of data from the five-year study April 30th at the 2014 Colorado Culture of Health Conference, where employers and health professionals can learn more about wellness programs. The study includes 330 Pinnacol Assurance policyholders across the state, employing just over 31,000 eligible participants. Half of the policyholders in the study have less than 49 employees.

Pinnacol, Colorado’s largest provider of workers’ compensation insurance, is conducting the research in partnership with the University of Colorado School of Public Health, the Integrated Benefits Institute, Emory University, and Colorado State University.

Factors that impact the cost and frequency of a workers’ comp claim include high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity. 

Employees participating in the HRM program complete a health risk appraisal and receive a wellness profile that provides them with information on their health risks as well as their healthy behaviors. They also have access to telephone coaching, tobacco cessation resources, online help and podcasts for additional support. In addition, some employers may offer incentives (ranging from gift cards to premium discounts for health insurance) for participation.

Pinnacol provides employers in the program with planning guidance and implementation assistance. The employers also receive aggregate reports detailing workforce risk factors.

The study has shown important differences in engagement rates and outcomes between small and large employers. Large employers appear to have lower worker participation rates and – unlike small companies - participation at large firms seems to be linked to incentives.

“The results indicate that although it is resource intensive to reach out to small employers, the results may ultimately more than offset the effort required,” said L ee Newman a professor at the CU’s School of Public Health and co-director of Health Links Colorado, which is focused on providing wellness resources for small employers.

The HRM study will continue through 2015.

For more information about the HRM study, contact Karen Curran: 303-361-4784 or Karen.curran@pinnacol.com

For more information about the Colorado Culture of Health Conference visit: http://www.coloradocultureofhealth.org



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