lunes, 8 de junio de 2015

Enhancing Workplace Wellness Efforts to Reduce Obesity: A Qualitative Study of Low-Wage Workers in St Louis, Missouri, 2013-2014


Enhancing Workplace Wellness Efforts to Reduce Obesity: A Qualitative Study of Low-Wage Workers in St Louis, Missouri, 2013-2014

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Enhancing Workplace Wellness Efforts to Reduce Obesity: A Qualitative Study of Low-Wage Workers in St Louis, Missouri, 2013-2014

Jaime R. Strickland, MA; Amy A. Eyler, PhD; Jason Q. Purnell, PhD; Anna M. Kinghorn, MS; Cynthia Herrick, MD; Bradley A. Evanoff, MD, MPH

Suggested citation for this article: Strickland JR, Eyler AA, Purnell JQ, Kinghorn AM, Herrick C, Evanoff BA. Enhancing Workplace Wellness Efforts to Reduce Obesity: A Qualitative Study of Low-Wage Workers in St Louis, Missouri, 2013–2014. Prev Chronic Dis 2015;12:140405. DOI:


The objective of this study was to examine workplace determinants of obesity and participation in employer-sponsored wellness programs among low-wage workers.
We conducted key informant interviews and focus groups with 2 partner organizations: a health care employer and a union representing retail workers. Interviews and focus groups discussed worksite factors that support or constrain healthy eating and physical activity and barriers that reduce participation in workplace wellness programs. Focus group discussions were transcribed and coded to identify main themes related to healthy eating, physical activity, and workplace factors that affect health.
Although the union informants recognized the need for workplace wellness programs, very few programs were offered because informants did not know how to reach their widespread and diverse membership. Informants from the health care organization described various programs available to employees but noted several barriers to effective implementation. Workers discussed how their job characteristics contributed to their weight; irregular schedules, shift work, short breaks, physical job demands, and food options at work were among the most commonly discussed contributors to poor eating and exercise behaviors. Workers also described several general factors such as motivation, time, money, and conflicting responsibilities.
The workplace offers unique opportunities for obesity interventions that go beyond traditional approaches. Our results suggest that modifying the physical and social work environment by using participatory or integrated health and safety approaches may improve eating and physical activity behaviors. However, more research is needed about the methods best suited to the needs of low-wage workers.


This study was supported by NIH/NIDDK P30DK092950, Washington University Center for Diabetes Translation Research (WU-CDTR), and by the Washington University Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences Award, UL1 TR000448, from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the WU-CDTR, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, NCATS, or NIH. We acknowledge the support of the Washington University Institute for Public Health for cosponsoring, with theWU-CDTR , the Next Steps in Public Health event that led to the development of this article.

Author Information

Corresponding Author: Jaime R. Strickland, MA, Division of General Medical Sciences, Washington University School of Medicine, 660 S Euclid Ave, Box 8005, St. Louis, MO 63110. Telephone: 314-454-7337. Email:
Author affiliations: Amy A. Eyler, Jason Q. Purnell, George Warren Brown School of Social Work, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri; Anna M. Kinghorn, Cynthia Herrick, Brad A. Evanoff, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri.


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