Effects of a Worksite Program to Improve the Cardiovascular Health of Female Health Care Workers

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PURPOSE:Reducing cardiovascular risk for female health care workers supports self-care and facilitates a culture of health promotion. We examined the effect of individualized motivational communications on risk and measured program participation at a busy hospital, utilizing cardiac rehabilitation resources.METHODS:Women (40-65 years old) who self-identified as having increased cardiovascular risk and ready for change were randomly assigned to weekly motivational counseling or control. All participants were offered classes (weight/diet, stress, exercise, and smoking cessation) and gym access. Physical and perceptual measures were recorded before and after the 6-month program to measure change. Followup 1 year later measured current weight, stress, and physical activity.RESULTS:Participants (n = 57) ranked weight as their greatest concern (42%). Compared with control, the intervention group resulted in greater: weight loss (7.2 vs 3.8 pounds); stress reduction (6.5 vs 4.7; Cohen stress scale); and exercise days per week (1.4 vs 1.2). Differences were not statistically significant in this small sample, but all changes consistently favored the intervention. Program participation was low, as was participation in the 1-year followup, although those responding indicated maintenance or further improvement.CONCLUSIONS:These consistent and positive findings are promising but only suggestive because of the small sample size. Future studies should focus on how to get more buy-in from employees, to help insure persistence toward health goals. Study results assisted development of a comprehensive Web-based employee wellness motivational program to address the issues of on-site participation. Attention to health risks in health care workers remains an important area of study.

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