Using a Social Ecological Theory to Determine Worksite Wellness Programming Barriers within a Private Midwestern Higher Education Setting

By Sara Terrell.

Published by The International Journal of Health, Wellness and Society

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Article: Print $US10.00
Published Online: June 16, 2015 $US5.00

Higher education settings offer an opportunity to foster interdisciplinary collaboration between health disciplines to facilitate employee wellness programs. The purpose was to assess potential barriers to participation within an employee wellness program implemented at a higher education setting by an interdisciplinary health care team using survey research. A 44-item survey was sent electronically to available employees at a private Midwestern university (n=903) using questions associated with the Social Ecological model and the Partnership for Prevention’s Lead by Example (LBE) survey tool (2005). Statistical analyses included descriptive statistics, T-test and ANOVA to assess differences in responses based on gender, self-reported medical conditions, and employee classification. There was a 27.5% return rate (n=249). Over 90% of participants valued the wellness program (M = 4.34, SD = .740). Statistical differences between employee classes were found for interpersonal support needs involving friends (p < .002) and family (p < .045). The assessment of the current technology infrastructure (p< .049), worksite fitness facility adequacy (p< .004), flex-time policy (p < .041), and compensation to participate (p< .007) revealed statistical differences between employee classes. LBE survey results indicated differences by employee classification to questions assessing the university’s employee health goals (p < .001), the alliance of health promotion objectives within organizational strategic planning (p< .009), supervisor support (p < .001), supervisor training (p<.038), awareness of the impact of health on worker productivity (p< .0001) and whether the university leadership viewed employees’ well-being as an indicator of business success (p< .001). Although the program was valued, facilitation of interpersonal support and examination of institutional barriers related to technology, fitness facility, flex time policy, supervisor training, supervisor and colleague support was warranted. LBE survey results indicated better collaboration between university administration and the health promotion team was necessary to improve integration of the wellness program into the organization.

Keywords: Social Ecology, Higher Education Worksite Wellness Programs, Interdisciplinary Wellness Teams, Lead by Example Assessment Tool

The International Journal of Health, Wellness and Society, Volume 5, Issue 2, June 2015, pp.31-43. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published Online: June 16, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 577.185KB)).

Dr. Sara Terrell

Assistant Professor of Exercise Physiology; ONU HEALTHWISE team clinician, Department of Human Performances and Sport Sciences (HPSS), Ohio Northern University, Ada, Ohio, USA