Carrots, Not Sticks: Adverse Impact and Wellness Programs

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The purpose of this study was to determine if wellness programs are likely to produce an adverse impact in various protected groups and to determine what features of the program may contribute to adverse impact.


Using a nationally representative sample of US adults, we examined the proportions of protected groups that would be expected to encounter adverse impact using various health factors such as weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.


The results of this study indicate that disincentive-based programs pose a high risk of differentially selecting protected groups into program categories. This is especially true for members of multiple protected classes.


We suggest organizations carefully consider both the type of program and the health factors incorporated into their wellness efforts and use incentives rather than disincentives to encourage health promotion.

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