American Heart Association Issues Guidance to Improve Health Screening in the Workplace

July 10, 2014

Washington, D.C., July 10, 2014 – A new article in the American Heart Association journal Circulation takes an in-depth look at the “The Role of Worksite Health Screening,” and provides guidance for how these initiatives can be structured to best benefit both employees and employers.

The policy statement, authored by a team of health experts, notes an encouraging shift in the nation’s healthcare system to early identification and management of risk factors, particularly for cardiovascular diseases. Healthcare delivery must now move beyond the clinical setting and join forces with employers, schools, community-based organizations and public health agencies to improve health through prevention, the statement said.

“The workplace is an ideal environment to initiate this shift towards prevention,” said Ross Arena, Ph.D., P.T., FAHA, lead author and professor and head of the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Illinois, Chicago. “Health screenings offered by employers arm their employees with the information they need to reduce risk factors and improve cardiovascular health. However, it is also important that employers implement important safeguards.”

Here are some recommendations in the policy statement:

  • Health screenings are most effective when they are done in conjunction with worksite wellness programs; they should not be done as stand-alone initiatives.
  • Employers should take extraordinary measures to assure employees of the privacy of their data, including assessing procedures to protect health information and employment status.
  • Further research needs to be done to determine best approaches for fostering meaningful, long-lasting change. Reviewing data across different industries and regions will help to better understand the best approach for these programs.

Employer investment in worksite health screening and health and wellness programs has increased significantly in recent years, according to the statement. Research cited by the authors suggests that savings associated with preventing or delaying the onset of disease justifies the investments made by employers to identify and reduce employee health risks.




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