Publications

Wellness program participation

July 31, 2016

Wellness programs have grown increasingly common in recent years. A Kaiser Family Foundation study found that 63 percent of organizations that employed and provided insurance for at least three employees offered some form of wellness program. Larger employers were more likely to offer their own wellness program and smaller employers were more likely to offer a program through their employees’ insurer.

Despite their increasing prevalence, evidence on the effectiveness of wellness programs is mixed, and the Rand Corporation has estimated that only 20–40 percent of eligible employees participate in wellness programs.

This brief examines the characteristics of those who reported being invited to participate in wellness programs and their perceptions of these programs. The brief is based on data from the Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation’s (CHRT) 2015 Cover Michigan Survey of Michigan adults, fielded between October and December 2015.

Key Findings

A substantial share of Michiganders reported having participated in wellness programs, but they perceived limited benefits from these programs. Respondents reported participating in programs focused on mental health or stress management relatively infrequently, but those who participated in such programs reported the greatest perceived benefits.

  • One in five respondents (20 percent) reported having participated in a wellness program sponsored by their employer, insurer, or another organization within the year prior to the survey.
  • Wellness programs were most likely to focus on increased exercise, healthy eating, or preventive care. Eighty-two percent of those who participated in a wellness program reported that it emphasized exercise, 76 percent reported that it emphasized healthy eating, and 76 percent reported that it emphasized preventive care.
  • Only 27 percent of respondents who participated in a wellness program found the program to be “very helpful.”
  • Respondents who participated in a wellness program focused on mental health or stress management were most likely to report that they had found the wellness program “very helpful.” Forty percent of those who participated in programs focused on mental health or stress management reported that the program had been “very helpful” compared to only 23 percent of those who participated in programs focused on other topics.

Read Full Brief Here