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Wellness Trends - June 2019

Posted By NWI, Wednesday, June 26, 2019
Updated: Thursday, June 20, 2019

Social & Emotional Wellness Are Critical Factors to Success

Social Determinants of Health Definitions 

We hear a lot more these days about social determinants of health (SDOH), but what are they? The World Health Organization provides a definition of SDOH.  

Further, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides additional definitions that should be considered in addition to SDOH. 


Transamerica Health Care Studies

Special thanks to Hector De La Torre of the Transamerica Center for Health Studies for providing this insightful data 

Wellness TrendsTransamerica Center for Health Studies® (TCHS) – a division of the Transamerica Institute® – is focused on empowering consumers and employers to achieve the best value and protection from their health coverage. TCHS engages with the American public through national surveys, its website, research findings and consumer guidance. 


Grocery Store Bills Can Determine Diabetes Rates by Neighborhood

Dietary habits are notoriously difficult to monitor. Now data scientists have analyzed sales figures from London’s biggest grocer to link eating patterns with local rates of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high blood sugar.  Read more at MIT Technology Review

Tags:  Diabetes  Emotional Wellness  Health Care  Healthcare  SDOH  Social Determinants of Health  Social Wellness  Trends  Wellness Trends 

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Refresh and Refocus Your Employee Wellness Programme

Posted By Dr. Dicky Els, Friday, June 21, 2019

Business team greeting eachother, laptop with charts and graphs in foregroundEmployee wellness programmes have multiple benefits, both for employers and their employees, if it is well designed and effectively managed. In fact, there is no question that the health and wellness of employees is a critical component of a thriving workplace, but the key is in evaluating what the actual business benefits of employee wellness programmes are.

Prior to investing in employee health promotion, employers are encouraged to consider how their efforts will be measured, monitored, and evaluated. More importantly, they need to define the financial and non-financial objectives, target specific health risk conditions, and set employee wellness programme objectives that align with the organisation’s human capital management strategy.

Rather than holding employee wellness programmes up as an employer of choice initiative, organisations should reposition them as human capital development strategies. Poorly designed initiatives usually focus on “flavour-of-the-month activities” that rightfully create awareness and educate employees, but it fail to address specific organisational risks, or to capitalise on any organisation development opportunities. As a result senior executives become sceptical about the actual value of employee wellness programmes. They want to analyse the cost and calculate the return on investment (ROI) and the net present value (NPV) of employee wellness programmes. For them, it is important to quantify the effectiveness of disease, pre-disease, health, and wellness management in relation to the medical and economic cost that include aspects such as productivity, turnover, replacements, absenteeism, and presenteeism cost. Basically, senior executives want to follow an outcome-based approach that address specific regions, population groups, health risk conditions, and job functions in order to measure the impact of the interventions and their effectiveness on various diseases or health risk conditions. In fairness, they are looking for the evidence—as well as the link—between financial investment and improved work performance.

Business case

Business team analyzing charts and graphs

Before implementing an employee wellness programme, and from a strategic human capital management perspective, organisations should first endeavour to develop a proper business case for employee wellness. In developing the business case, successful employee wellness programmes set out to determine what the burden of disease for their workforce is. With health risk assessments that are usually conducted at the annual wellness-day, employers aim to determine what the health risk prevalence and incidence of the organisation's workforce are. The intention is to determine the health status of employees, but much more can be gained from these assessments.

Health risk assessments typically measure and report lifestyle indicators such as physical activity, nutrition and diet, body fat, sleep patterns, and clinical preventative biometric measures that include, for example, blood sugar and cholesterol levels. This management information is then used to help the organisation determine the collective or organisational health risk. However, the organisation's ability to predict future disease risks, and of course, to calculate the ROI and NPV for specific wellness and disease management interventions are still lacking. More advanced organisations accurately access the immediate and the future health risks of employees, as well as measure and manage the probability and severity of these adverse effects. With the use of innovative health risk assessments and predictive analytics, they translate large quantities of wellness and disease management information into business intelligence and actionable insights. By understanding the financial and non-financial (business) risks, and the potential rewards related to employee wellness, organisations are able to manage it more effectively as a business imperative.

Both the health risk conditions and the costs associated with the health risks of employees are important sets of management information. To determine the wellness programme objectives, organisations first need to identify the health risks of employees and similarly, determine the high, medium, and low risk population groups. Secondly, they need to forecast what the medical and economic costs for each risk group could be. When employee health risks are accurately assessed and monetised, appropriate wellness and disease management interventions target specific organisational outcomes.

Management intervention

businessman looking at data

When employers take more control over health risk assessment data and the recording and reporting of their employee wellness and disease management information, they are better positioned to determine the impact of their management interventions. The more sophisticated the wellness and disease management information is, the more advanced the predictions are that the organisation will be able to make about the future onset of pre-disease and disease, as well as the various pathogenic stages of diseases, aiming to deliver cost effective, targeted, and appropriate interventions. The real value of the appropriate use of wellness and disease management information lies in the fact that the organisation can better manage and control disease morbidity and its associated costs. Furthermore, by understanding the different stages of disease development, organisations are able to effectively manage the impact of the identified occupational and non-occupational diseases. Management intervention, and more specifically the employee wellness programme, should then be utilised to tolerate, terminate, transfer, or treat employee health risks towards an acceptable level.

In these instances, the intention is to focus on employee health and organisational risk mitigation strategies that prevent and treat health risks, pre-disease, and disease, as well as promote employee health and wellness. These organisations adopt a combination of curative (disease management), preventative, and health promotion (wellness management) interventions. In addition, well-executed programmes use wellness and disease management software to help with data gathering, predictive analytics, document control, and to manage absences and claims effectively.

By enabling employees to feel good and to function well at work, best-practice employee wellness programmes add significant value to the performance, quality of life, and longevity of employees. In this regard, we should consider the difference between the consumption of health care services and an investment in employee wellness or health promotion. For example, when a temporary health condition such as a neck pain is treated and resolved at the onsite clinic, this treatment does not contribute to the employee’s longevity. But when employees change their lifestyle or manage their health risk appropriately, and their life expectancy increases as a result, and the benefits of the employee wellness programme produce compounding effects from one term to the next. Furthermore, when employee wellness programmes incorporate wellness coaching that focuses on the development of employee engagement, resilience, self-efficacy, agility, hope, and optimism, it also supports the development of the emotional and social wellness of employees. For this reason, organisations should follow a dual process by managing the health risks and the wellness of employees. This means that a true investment in employee wellness will always mitigate health risks and prevent disease but, more importantly, also promote the overall health, longevity, and wellness of employees.


By embracing a holistic, integrated wellness and disease management approach, enlightened organisations broaden their views on human capital management and the extent to which it supports, creates, and promotes business value over time. When the health of employees is compromised, either by the employer's misconduct or by the employee's own doing, it is to be expected that the organisation's risks will also increase, promoting the probability of actual harm or loss to the organisation. These organisational risks can be accurately measured in the organisational performance and the medical and economic costs of the organisation. In contrast, when the health and wellness of employees is valued and promoted through appropriate management interventions, it appreciates in value. With a robust employee wellness and disease management programme in place, organisations can commit to help those employees who are sick better manage their health, prevent those who are at-risk from developing costly chronic conditions, and support the healthy to be well.

Dr Dicky ElsDr Dicky Els is an Employee Wellness Consultant who specialises predominantly in wellness and disease management strategy development, programme design, and the evaluation of outcome-based health promotion programmes.

Tags:  Worksite wellness 

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Six Strategies to Promote Social Wellness

Posted By Wellsource, Friday, June 21, 2019
Updated: Monday, June 17, 2019

This is the fourth post in a six-part series focusing on the Six Dimensions of Wellness: emotional, occupational, physical, social, intellectual, and spiritual. Each post features a different dimension of wellness. This post will discuss social wellness and the importance of building meaningful connections with others.

Part 1: Using Gratitude to Improve Your Population’s Emotional Wellbeing
Part 2: 5 Ways to Highlight Occupational Wellness in Your Health Program
Part 3: How to Keep Your Workforce Population Moving
Part 4: Six Strategies to Promote Social Wellness
Part 5: Keep Your Workforce Sharp with These 4 Simple Strategies
Part 6: Mindfulness: The Focus Path to Spiritual Wellness

Some people have close friendships that span a lifetime. Those trusting, comfortable, and positive relationships add quality to a person's life. For Bob Green, a bloody nose during a kindergarten reading circle led to a 50-year friendship that ended prematurely with his friend’s untimely death. Reflecting on the decades that spanned both good times and bad, Green wrote, “There are a handful of people, during your lifetime, who know you well enough to understand when the right thing to say is to say nothing at all. Those people—and there will be, at most, only a few of them—will be with you during your very worst times.” 

Social WellnessSome people meet someone for the first time and feel an immediate bond. Patricia Coler-Dark met her good friend Mary Lou in a most unusual place—a cemetery. Years later, she shared their story with Reader’s Digest. “I met Mary Lou 14 years ago, while tending the grave of my 34-year-old son Kevin just weeks after he passed,” Coler-Dark recalled. “Mary Lou was visiting her son Gary. She smiled, and soon we were sharing our stories—not only about our sons but about life in general. On my next visit with Kevin, I saw a piece of paper sticking out from under a rock—an inspirational note from Mary Lou. I wrote her back and put my note under the same rock. A week later, I returned to find another note from Mary Lou. We went back and forth like this for years. Today, we still see each other, but usually over a hot fudge sundae. We talk and laugh and rarely feel the need to discuss our deep pain. That’s why we are friends for life.”

We need food and water to survive. And we need people we can count on and who will help us feel like we belong. Think about the movie, Castaway. A guy is stuck on an island. Alone. And he gets lonely. Very lonely. He wants to be around other people, but no one is around. So he names a volleyball "Wilson" and treats it like a person. Why? He needs contact with others. It's tough to be fully cut off from other people. That’s why social wellness—the ability to interact with people around you, use good communication skills, have meaningful relationships, respect yourself and others, and create an effective support system—is so important. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs lists social needs immediately after physiological and safety needs with good reason.


The science of loneliness

Psychiatrist Frieda Fromm-Reichman observed, “Loneliness seems to be such a painful, frightening experience that people will do practically everything to avoid it.” She clarified that solitude and aloneness aren’t necessarily loneliness. Some people “experience the infinity of nature” and find peace. For others, seclusion can “yield creative artistic or scientific products.” It is also possible to be surrounded by people and yet feel lonely. Humans are “born with the need for contact and tenderness”—and mental and physical health suffer when the longing for closeness with others is unfulfilled. Research shows the health risks of social isolation are comparable to the risks associated with obesity, smoking, and high blood pressure. In fact, lack of social connections can increase the risk of death by at least 50 percent.

Two out of five American adults feel alone (40%) and isolated (43%) according to a recent survey, and that can leave them feeling disconnected, misunderstood, insecure, and stressed. These feelings spill into the workforce and impact employers by: 

As the Global Wellness Institute (GWI) report The Future of Wellness at Work observed, “wellness and work can create a mutually enhancing virtuous circle. When we feel healthy and balanced, we bring energy, focus, and motivation to work, and we are more productive…. Having friendships and trust at work not only increases our productivity as workers, but also improves our personal wellbeing.” That’s why it is imperative that employers expand workplace wellness programs to foster social interactions that promote healthy office friendships.


The social salve

Social WellnessPositive social connections at work mean that people get sick less often, recover twice as fast from surgery, experience less depression, learn faster and remember longer, tolerate pain and discomfort better, display more mental acuity, and perform better on the job. Productivity improves 20-25% in organizations with well-connected employees. They tend to have healthier habits. And they are more loyal and less stressed

Socialization, positive interactions, and authentic relationships—in other words, having friends at work—is a factor in whether an employee feels the employer cares. In fact, 71% of millennials want to build close relationships at work. But simply stocking the lunchroom with table games in hopes of boosting socialization won’t work. According to The Future of Wellness at Work survey, “Only 25% of employees believe that their company offers a wellness program because they care about workers’ health and wellbeing. Fifty-eight percent believe their program exists only to cut company health costs, while another 17% believe it’s in place to make employees work harder/be more productive.” Employee productivity, satisfaction, and wellness are influenced by how employers cultivate social networks and authentic caring.   


So what’s the formula for social wellness? 

Specific methodologies and approaches depend on the employee population. But here are six ways you can foster a positive work environment where employees can develop social wellness. 

  1. Make it easy for employees to talk to each other. Encourage employees to step away from their devices and interact with each other. Provide an area at work for employees to eat lunch together and interact during breaks. At holidays, treat employees to a healthy meal. And plan optional social events both within the workday and outside the workday, including team-building activities like going to an escape room, wellness challenges like taking an exercise class together, and volunteer opportunities where coworkers can socialize while giving back.
  2. Encourage team collaboration on projects. Your company benefits in at least two ways when employees interact with personnel from other departments who they may not work with on a daily basis. First, they will come up with creative ideas and solutions that might not have been imagined in isolation. Second, employees will develop mutual trust. Be sure to utilize video conferencing to include remote workers in all meetings. 
  3. Make it easy for employees to feel good about themselves. It’s easier to trust and feel good about someone else when you feel good about yourself. So recognize employees for hard work. Praise them for acts of kindness. And encourage employees to bring in pictures of themselves doing things that make them proud, like their backpack trip last summer or their recent marathon finish. 
  4. Help new employees integrate. An office bingo or Who’s Who Challenge that requires new employees to find out interesting and important information about their co-workers encourages conversation. So do weekly team potlucks, walk groups, and stand-up meetings that begin with collective discussions that help individuals identify with the team. And consider organizing your employees into small groups to for wellness program initiatives – integrating “newbies” with more seasoned staff – and using online social platforms to increase social interaction and boost engagement in healthy habits as well.  
  5. Create a culture of care. For GenX employees (born 1965-1978), that includes having friends at work and being able to enjoy work-life balance. For Millennials (born 1979-1996), the primary factors are a wellness program that encourages healthy eating; a positive work environment where people know they are respected, valued, and heard; career autonomy and recognition; and time to socialize with co-workers and managers. Showing compassion can help managers prevent staff burnout in these populations. Many Boomers (born 1946-1964) are looking for positions within organizations that have social purpose and that provide them with a robust wellness program to increase their physical wellness. Encourage employees to provide feedback on what type of social interactions they would like to see at the company, as well as the kinds of social causes or community outreach resonates with them.
  6. Practice social skills. You can't make good feelings or positive friendships happen, but you can help employees practice the skills that lead to friendship. Hold seminars on how to build and maintain quality relationships. Give them opportunity to build their social connections and track their progress daily by sharing our Strengthen Social Bonds health challenge with them. You can even turn it into a month-long Health Challenge™ as a part of your wellness program.

Ready to get started? Download our Health Challenge™ Strengthen Social Bonds which includes: 

  • A basic quiz for participants to find out whether they have a healthy social network 
  • An example illustrating the importance of social connections
  • The benefits of social wellness for physical and mental health
  • Tips on how to build strong bonds with friends, family, and coworkers
  • A calendar to track how many days each month participants take action to strengthen their bonds with others

This is the fourth post in a six-part series focusing on the Six Dimensions of Wellness: emotional, occupational, physical, social, intellectual, and spiritual. Below are links to the other published in this series.

Part 1: Using Gratitude to Improve Your Population’s Emotional Wellbeing
Part 2: 5 Ways to Highlight Occupational Wellness in Your Health Program
Part 3: How to Keep Your Workforce Population Moving
Part 4: Six Strategies to Promote Social Wellness
Part 5: Keep Your Workforce Sharp with These 4 Simple Strategies
Part 6: Coming Soon!


About Wellsource

Wellsource, Inc. has been a premier provider of evidence-based Health Risk Assessments and Self-Management Tools for four decades, making us one of the longest-serving wellness companies in the industry. With a strong reputation for scientific research and validity, we offer an innovative family of products that empower wellness companies, health plans, ACOs, and healthcare providers to inspire healthy lifestyles, prevent disease, and reduce unnecessary healthcare costs. Our assessments connect lifestyle choices with healthy outcomes, measure readiness to change for maximum results, and drive informed decisions with actionable data.

For more information about Wellsource products, visit www.wellsource.com or connect with Wellsource at well@wellsource.com.


Works Cited (in progress) 

Breen, Bob. “Friends for Life.” AARP The Magazine, AARP, Feb. 2011, www.aarp.org/relationships/friends/info-2006/friends_for_life.html

Reader’s Digest Editors. “22 Heartwarming Stories of True Friendship That Will Make You Call Your Bestie.” Reader’s Digest, Reader’s Digest, www.rd.com/advice/relationships/stories-of-friendship/.  

“Social Wellness.” University of California, Riverside Wellness Program, University of California, Riverside,  wellness.ucr.edu/social_wellness.html

Burton, Neel. “Our Hierarchy of Needs.” Psychology Today, 17, Sep. 2017, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hide-and-seek/201205/our-hierarchy-needs

Fromm-Reichmann, Frieda. “Loneliness.” Psychiatry: Journal for the Study of Interpersonal Processes, 1959, 22:1-15. Reprinted in Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 1990, icpla.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Loneliness-Frieda-Fromm-Reichman-1990-Contemp.-Psychoanal.26-305-329.pdf

Bevacqua, Julie. “The Impact of Social Wellness and Connection in the Workplace.” Rise, risepeople.com, 28 Mar. 2019, risepeople.com/blog/social-wellness-in-the-workplace/

University of Arizona. “Poor Social Skills May Be Harmful to Health.” ScienceDaily, 06 Nov. 2017, www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171106090116.htm.

Lewis, Tanya. “This Common Characteristic May Be as Big a Risk to Your Health as Smoking.” Business Insider, BusinessInsider.com, 04 Jan. 2016, www.businessinsider.com/how-social-isolation-affects-your-health-2016-1

Seppälä, Emma and Kim Cameron. “Proof that Positive Work Cultures Are More Productive.” Harvard Business Review, HBR.org, 01 Dec. 2015, hbr.org/2015/12/proof-that-positive-work-cultures-are-more-productive.

Valtorta, Nicole, et al. “Loneliness and social isolation as risk factors for coronary heart disease and stroke: systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal observational studies.” Heart, British Medical Journals, July 2016, 102:1009-1016, heart.bmj.com/content/102/13/1009

Sutin, Angelina, et al. “Loneliness and Risk of Dementia.” The Journals of Gerontology: Series B, gby112, Oxford University Press, 26 Oct. 2018, doi.org/10.1093/geronb/gby112.

Cacioppo, JT, et al. “Loneliness as a Specific Risk Factor for Depressive Symptoms: Cross-sectional and Longitudinal Analyses.” Psychology and Aging, American Psychological Association, Mar. 2006, 21(1):140-151, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16594799.

Cole, Steven, et al. “Myeloid differentiation architecture of leukocyte transcriptome dynamics in perceived social isolation.” PNAS, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 08 Dec. 2015, 112(49):15142-15147, doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1514249112.

Shulevitz, Judith. “The Lethality of Loneliness.” The New Republic, NewRepublic.com, 12, May 2013, newrepublic.com/article/113176/science-loneliness-how-isolation-can-kill-you.  

Ninivaggi, Frank. “Loneliness: A New Epidemic in the USA.” Psychology Today, 12 Feb. 2019, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/envy/201902/loneliness-new-epidemic-in-the-usa.

Karimi, Saeed, et al. “The relationship between sociability and productivity.” Journal of Education and Health Promotion, 28 Aug. 2014, 3:104, 10.4103/2277-9531.139696.

Lincoln, James and Bernadette Doerr. “Cultural Effects on Employee Loyalty in Japan and The U.S.: Individual– or Organization-Level?” IRLE Working Paper No. 116-12, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, University of California, Berkeley, Jan. 2012,  irle.berkeley.edu/workingpapers/116-12.pdf

Seppälä, Emma and Marissa King. “Burnout at Work Isn’t Just About Exhaustion. It’s Also About Loneliness.” Harvard Business Review, HBR.org, 29 June 2017, hbr.org/2017/06/burnout-at-work-isnt-just-about-exhaustion-its-also-about-loneliness.

Ozcelik, Hakan and Sigal Barsade. “Work Loneliness and Employee Performance.” Faculty Research, College of Business Administration, California Sacramento University and Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania, May 2012, faculty.wharton.upenn.edu/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Work_Loneliness_Performance_Study.pdf

Global Wellness Institute. “The Future of Wellness at Work.” Jan. 2016. globalwellnessinstitute.org/press-room/press-releases/global-wellness-institute-releases-report-and-survey-on-the-future-of-wellness-at-work/

Seppälä, Emma and Kim Cameron. “Proof That Positive Work Cultures Are More Productive.” Harvard Business Review, HBR.org, 01 Dec. 2015, hbr.org/2015/12/proof-that-positive-work-cultures-are-more-productive.

Wilson, Fred. “Is Socializing in The Workplace Important for Team Productivity?” eLearning Industry, elearningindustry.com, 16 Dec. 2018, elearningindustry.com/socializing-workplace-important-team-productivity.

Wellsource. “Why Social Interaction Is Important at Work.” Wellsource.com, 22 July 2014, blog.wellsource.com/why-social-interaction-is-important-at-work.
Muniz, Katherine. “The Value of Encouraging Socializing in the Workplace.” Fingercheck, fingercheck.com, 09 Oct. 2017, fingercheck.com/the-value-of-encouraging-socializing-in-the-workplace/.

Kohll, Alan. “5 Reasons Social Connections Can Enhance Your Employee Wellness Program.” Forbes magazine, forbes.com, 31 Jan. 2018, www.forbes.com/sites/alankohll/2018/01/31/5-ways-social-connections-can-enhance-your-employee-wellness-program/#2f0b43d527c4.

Giang, Vivian. “71% of Millennials Want Their Co-Workers to Be a ‘Second Family.’” Business Insider, businessinsider.com, 15 Jun. 2013, www.businessinsider.com/millennials-want-to-be-connected-to-their-coworkers-2013-6.

Wellsource. “Building Relationships Enhances Culture of Wellness.” Wellsource.com, 25, June 2015, blog.wellsource.com/building-relationships-enhances-culture-wellness.

Wellsource. “Increase Participation with Social Incentives.” Wellsource.com, 21 Mar. 2012, blog.wellsource.com/increase-participation-social-incentives.
Carpenter, Dave. “More boomers aspire to careers with social purpose.” Associated Press, 07, Sep. 2012. https://finance.yahoo.com/news/more-boomers-aspire-careers-social-213113003.html;_ylt=A2KJjagMDk1QV3kAZZTQtDMD.

Wellsource. “Workplace Wellness in 2018: The HAL Advice to Save Your Population.” Wellsource.com, 13 Apr. 2018, blog.wellsource.com/workplace-wellness-hal-advice-save-population.

Walton, Alice. “7 Ways Loneliness (And Connectedness) Affect Mental Health.” Forbes magazine, forbes.com, 30 Oct. 2018, www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2018/10/30/7-ways-loneliness-and-connectedness-affect-mental-health/#48f18cdce1dc.

Tags:  Social Wellness 

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Emerging Wellness Professional Minute

Posted By Samantha Diedrich, Friday, June 21, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Don't miss Samantha Diedrich's one-minute video on the importance of "practicing what we preach"!

Samantha Diedrich, MS, CWPSamantha Diedrich, MS, CWP, is a Certified Wellness Practitioner and Health Coach with Aspirus Business Health - Wellness. She is passionate about engaging business partners and clients to improve their lives through health and happiness. She is a member of the National Wellness Institute's Emerging Wellness Professional task force.

Tags:  emerging wellness professional  EWP  Intellectual Wellness  mindfulness 

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5 Top Causes of Disability

Posted By Chuck Gillespie , Friday, May 17, 2019
Updated: Friday, May 17, 2019

May is Disability Insurance Awareness Month

Each May for Disability Insurance Awareness Month, Unum releases its top causes of disability to shed a light on what causes one in four workers a career derailment. What are the top five disabilities?  The trend you will see is how much lifestyle plays a major role in disability.  What can we do better? A lot, but it begins with good training and education


Let’s review the top causes of a disability:

5.  Joint disorders 

Biggest prevalence of these types of claims are the result of higher rates of obesity and the aging workforce.  

4. Back Disorders

Over the last decade, long-term back injuries have decreased 14%. The fact that treatment has reduced the problems.  At the same time, the biggest causes of back strain are a lack of strength and poor lifting habits.  Still in that lifestyle category. 

3. Injury

90% of accidents and injuries are caused on the job.  Typically, this will cause insurance hits on your workers comp claims as well as hitting your health insurance.  Accidents will occur, but good safety program and keeping a focus on having employees, no matter their job, fit for duty.  

2. Cancer

This is the #1 cost factor for both short and long term disability.  Many cancers are lifestyle related, but the biggest concern is that cancer claims have increased 10% over the last decade.  

1. Pregnancy

This one is a “disability” that all of us should be excited about and a great way to help new parents out.  Technically, it is a lifestyle related disability, but the good kind.  


Lifestyle plays a huge role in your disability insurance coverage, but changing lifestyles goes beyond smoking cessation, physical activity and diet programs.  Leaders in health and wellness to understand how poor choices are affected by social, environmental, cultural, and personal issues that limits the ability to make these changes.  These social determinants of health have become a cornerstone in how insurance carriers are predicting outcomes.  How are you using social determinants of health? 

Expecting and realizing fiscal impact on heath and workers compensation claims by just offering a program is not going to net you substantial savings – the research is clear on this.  The programs must coincide with a healthy atmosphere at work and (if possible) at home – that is when you see the positive budgetary outcomes.  Wellness works, but only when wellness is a culture strategy and not a health care cost savings program.

Chuck Gillespie is Executive Director of the National Wellness Institute.

Tags:  Disability  Injury  Insurance 

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Systemic Regulation: A new understanding of the Wellness Approach applied to organizations

Posted By Ferroudja Meghenem, Friday, May 17, 2019
Updated: Friday, May 17, 2019

Systemic regulation has been widely used in the medical sector where it means the entire network of pathways by which the various systems of the body interact in order to allow an organism to live, move, and remain healthy.

It is also the term selected and used by the French company Wellness Values to address and explain the primary intended benefit of wellness approaches deployed within organizations.


Wellness model, individuals and organizations

In 1976, Dr Bill Hettler, co-founder of the National Wellness Institute (NWI) developed the wellness model based on six dimensions (Occupational, Intellectual, Emotional, Social, Spiritual, Physical).

Seeking an appropriate balance between the multiple dimensions.Individuals are always seeking an appropriate balance between the multiple dimensions because each dimension contributes to individuals’ fulfilment. The importance attached to any one dimension depends on context and individual characteristics (identity, personal experiences and interests, culture etc.).

Through this Wellness model, individuals become aware of the interconnectedness of each dimension and are more likely to make some beneficial decisions to serve their health and well-being.

While this wellness model was contextualized for individuals, it can also be relevant to organizations:

  • Individuals want to achieve a certain level of fulfilment with respect to a given context;
  • Organizations which are "Wellness oriented” want to foster a culture of health, promote healthy behaviors in the workplace and support employees towards a common goal of achieving a healthier lifestyle. This will have a positive impact on the teams, which will in turn contribute to the development of the organization (growth, customer experiences, etc.)

However, regarding organizations, wellness should be addressed as part of a rigorous approach which considers the particular features of the organization (activities, culture, etc.) and the complexities of dealing with human beings and human relations within organizations. 


Appreciate the complexities of organizations

Research conducted by theorists from the Palo Alto group, suggest organization to be considered as a system composed of individuals which interact with each other; they have some form of hierarchy and their personal logic is sometimes contradictory.

Appreciate the complexities of organizationsThe system (the organization) evolves in a "change” environment composed of other actors (customers, competitors, etc.), and constraints (market, policies, etc.).

This means human systems are very complex by nature, and complexity mainly results from the multiple interactions which might exist between the different actors; a change to one component of the organization can have an immediate effect on another component.


Wellness approach and systemic regulation

Immediate and significant impacts on the behavior of team members.So, it is clear that if we implement a wellness approach at a strategic level of the organization (for instance, Managers), this can have immediate and significant impacts on the behavior of team members. In particular, we might find that team members work in a more serene atmosphere, and as a team achieve greater productivity (collective efficiency improvement).

Within the human body all components cooperate in one individual’s life. Within the human body all components cooperate in one individual’s life. Physiological mechanisms come into play in order to coordinate their functions, so that they meet the whole body’s needs at any time. This is what is termed "systemic regulation”.

The business case analogy here is that systemic regulation of the implementation of a wellness approach in an organization contributes to the dynamic achievement of the organization’s strategic and business objectives (organization’s needs). 

Ferroudja MeghenemFerroudja Meghenem, CEO of WELLNESS VALUES, is an Engineer of the highly reputed “Ecole Nationale des Mines” (France), who started her career in audit and consulting, advising groups for several years. She founded F@ME Days®, a wellness and fashion event concept, and also founded the company WELLNESS VALUES, a strategic consulting firm specializing in wellness, which assists companies to define and implement a wellness approach within their organization.

Tags:  International Wellness  Systemic Regulation 

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Career Trends: Who Are Wellness Professionals?

Posted By Suzanne Hunt, Friday, May 17, 2019
Updated: Friday, May 17, 2019

It’s no secret the wellness industry is growing at a rapid pace. Can you remember the last time you logged onto social media, glanced at a magazine, or went shopping (online or in a mall) and didn’t see some type of health and wellness ad? Whether it’s for a new health supplement, access to better wellness-related services, or ‘getting ready for bathing suit season (que the eye roll),’ there seems to be an increased push in marketing about pursuing holistic wellness throughout the world. 

Though “wellness” itself is a broad term, it can be highly complex for each of us. Oftentimes our personal wellness and how we care for ourselves can be cultural, intrapersonal, interpersonal, and even dependent upon our surrounding community. Wellness is a journey for each of us, and ironically, so is the wellness industry. I won’t bore you with the history of how we have transitioned in the past few decades to get to where we are now, with a shift to focus on holistic wellness (finally!). Although I am biased because I work in the industry, I do think it’s important to understand the wide range of professionals in the field that are shaping the way we take care of ourselves both now and in the future. 

The great thing about the wellness industry is that it doesn’t necessarily always require a straight and narrow path to become a professional in the field. It does however take time, knowledge, passion, and being willing to take chances in order to help others. On the flip side, the challenge with the wellness industry is that it often gets confused with bad marketing schemes and ‘fluffy’ work. I’ll admit, I have a tendency to walk around with a bit of a chip on my shoulder because I have worked with a lot of wonderful people who think what I do in higher education is simply ‘fluff’. I work to build and maintain collaborative partnerships to influence a culture of wellness on college campuses. Let me assure you—this requires a lot of time, data, and developing intentional initiatives that will empower people to change behaviors and make healthy choices. “Fluff”? I don’t think so! I can bet that many people in the industry have been mislabeled in similar ways as well. For example, as a Certified Health Coach and Weight Loss Management Specialist, I work with a lot of wonderful fitness professionals. Unfortunately, they often get perceived as people who just work out all the time. Again, this is not the case! It takes proper training, practice, passing difficult certification exams, and continuous learning about the wellness industry, as well as being on top of new evidence-based training methods. 

Even though I had a pretty typical rise into the wellness industry by pursuing my Master of Public Health, many people bring outside scopes and experiences into the field, which positively influence the rapid changes we have seen in the industry in the last few decades. From workplace wellness to teachers and scientists who focus on research, to doctors, mental health providers, and more, the industry proves the benefits of holistic wellness by providing professionals in a field that help us connect and make sense of our personal health. 

Below, you’ll see a variety of professionals with varying backgrounds and experiences who all contribute to the wellness industry in unique ways. Think you knew what the wellness industry encompassed? You might want to think again.

Peter Rives: Assistant Director of Wellbeing, Alcohol & Substance Abuse Prevention
Starting with an undergraduate degree in Psychology, Peter completed four years of doctoral study in Social Psychology. From there he worked in community-based public mental health, substance use, and intellectual/developmental disabilities services. Over the course of his career, Peter became an expert and consultant in integrated healthcare and Motivational Interviewing (MI), which is utilized in health and wellness coaching, among many other wellness fields of work. Recognized as one of the “Top 40 Under 40 Business Leaders” by the Business Journal in 2013, he now leads wellness and prevention efforts around alcohol and substance abuse prevention to reduce high risk behaviors and empower healthier lifestyles for students in higher education. 

Jillian Neil: Psychologist, Outreach Coordinator
Jillian has a unique background with starting out with an undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in Psychology. After graduation she completed her masters degree in Early Childhood Special Education and Human Development to teach special education in the area. It is during this experience that she realized her true interest was working from a psychology perspective—which led her to apply for and complete a Clinical Development Psychology doctoral degree. After a few moves around the country to complete her internship and postdoctoral experiences, she now works as a Clinical Psychologist and Outreach Coordinator in higher education. While she continues to make an individual impact in one-on-one sessions, she also works extensively with campus partners to develop and implement initiatives, programs, and awareness campaigns around mental health, resilience, bystander intervention, and more; which further impacts the campus community at large. 

John Lyon: BS, MA
Completed his undergraduate degree in Neuroscience, while playing football at Harvard University. Throughout this experience John knew that health and wellness was an imperative factor both academically and physically.  Upon graduating from Harvard, John began to work to combine both his interests and academic pursuits into a reality, by assisting in the study and development of nutritional supplements. After several years, he felt led to pursue his other passion: spirituality. While in the process of finishing up his Master of Arts in Religious Studies, John continued to pursue his passion for health and wellness, helping others as a Certified Personal Trainer while working as a Graduate Assistant in the Office of Wellbeing. After graduation he plans to continue to empower others through a combination of wellness and spirituality as a pastor. 

Romy Antoine: CEO, One Stop Wellness
With a background in biology and exercise science, Romy started as a personal trainer and nutritionist who witnessed his clients in corporate jobs struggle with work-life balance. This experience led him to make a transition to be in the employee engagement industry, where Romy builds technology to improve workplace happiness and incentivize behavior change for holistic wellbeing as the CEO of One Stop Wellness. His innovative work has led to many accomplishments, including being the inaugural Young Wellness Professional Award winner from the National Wellness Institute in 2018. 

Sabrina WalasekSuzanne Hunt, MPH, CWP is a public health practitioner focused on working within higher education. She is a Certified Wellness Practitioner, Certified Health Coach, and Weight Management Specialist. She recently worked as the Assistant Director of Wellbeing, Health Promotion at Wake Forest University, and continues to serve as an Associate Editor for the Education in Health Professions Journal. Suzanne contributes to research on health behaviors of graduate students in her role as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the N.C. College of Veterinary Medicine, as well as growing her experience in consulting work for various universities in the U.S.

Tags:  Career  Emerging Wellness Professionals  EWP  Wellness Professional 

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Wellness and Well-Being—It’s All About Connection

Posted By Chuck Gillespie, Friday, May 3, 2019

This article was originally posted in Aging Today

Six Dimensions of Wellness ModelWhen thinking about the terms wellness or well-being, multiple definitions come to mind. Wellness, according to the National Wellness Institute (NWI), is an active pro­cess of becoming aware of and learning to make choices that lead toward a longer and more successful existence—in other words, toward a life worth living.

So, how to achieve wellness? According to Gallup well-being research, physical activity provides adults ages 65 and older with a 32 percent higher positive emotional out­look than for those who are not active. But to have a life worth living, it is critical to look beyond physical wellness; Gallup research also identifies how there can be too much emphasis placed upon the physical dimension of health and well-being.

For example, Steven Hawking had been told in his 20s that he would never see age 30. In 2018, he died at age 76. In 2016, he noted that “however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.” Hawking exemplifies someone whose physical health did not deter him from living. While doing his best to maintain his physical health, he also cultivated intellectual, so­cial, occupational, spiritual and emotional purpose—a life worth living.

The Six Dimensions of Wellness

The basis for such a life begins with focusing on the six dimensions of wellness, which were devel­oped by past and present leaders of the NWI. These dimensions—physical, occupational, social, intel­lectual, spiritual and emotional—strongly influence human well-being.

Physical wellness is the dimension often used to define wellness. Eating right and being active is the rallying cry. Young and old must get a yearly checkup by a primary care physician, a dentist, and an optometrist. People with chronic conditions must manage them, and everyone should avoid to­bacco. But there is so much more to wellness.

Anyone who has experienced the stress of being in an unsatisfying job, or who has been em­ployed by a company with a psychically poisonous work environment knows those situations con­sume significant amounts of energy; poor physical working conditions also cause harm. Thus, oc­cupational wellness is critical to well-being. For some, occupational wellness involves whatever work makes them happy. For others, a paid job provides their desired financial and material life, but a working hobby such as gardening, wood-working or fixing cars also can provide satisfaction and enrichment.

Close friends walking arm-in-arm

The social dimension involves connection to friends and family. Lack of a good social network, loneliness, feeling isolated and not fitting in at home, at work or in a community are major barriers to achieving wellness.

The intellectual wellness dimension means expanding knowledge and skills while allowing time to discover the potential for sharing one’s gifts with others. Humans must be constant learners, not necessarily in the sense of “book smarts,” but in learning to find their own unique ways to learn and to teach.

The spiritual and emotional dimensions both are critical to happiness and health. The spiritual dimension recognizes the human desire to search for meaning and purpose in life—exploring the ubiquitous question, “Why are we here?”

The emotional dimension aligns with the other five dimensions by recognizing how each person must try to cultivate a positive outlook—to create enthusiasm about one’s self and one’s life.

Each dimension holds equal value in a life worth living. But the concepts for each dimension need to be understood in the right perspective. For example, as Hawking overcame his physical obstacles, it is imperative for individuals to understand their own obstacles to overcome.

Social Determinants and Wellness

According to the recent survey by Waystar, “Consumer Perspectives on How Social Determinants Impact Clinical Experience”, 68 percent of respondents had social risk-factor obstacles. Healthcare access, housing insecurity, transportation access, food insecurity, safety, and health literacy lead the list. The survey shows that much more than medical care affects health and wellness. “The most commonly reported social determinants of health issues are finan­cial insecurity and social isolation,” the report’s authors write.

Research by the National Institutes for Health shows that with aging, individuals often decline in physical and cognitive function, causing a narrowing of social networks. Further, social isolation is prevalent among individuals who are far from family and friends or who are not near a cultural center to which they feel connected.

Not “fitting in” is an issue many people face. Civil rights legislation in the United States created legal prec­edent regarding discrimination (i.e., around race, religion, gender, disability, etc.) for protected classes, but prior to 1990, people with disabilities were not covered. Thanks to the American’s with Disabilities Act, wheelchair users now have access to many venues to which they were pre­viously shut off; this legislation opened up new avenues of social, emotional, and intellectual well-being.

Other factors such as geography (where one lives), healthcare access and personal priorities also play a part in individual well-being. For instance, workplace and community wellness initiatives may promote the need to prioritize 60 minutes of exercise per day, but for people living in unsafe neighborhoods who are worried about putting dinner on the table, exercise moves down on the priority list.

NWI Multicultural Wellness WheelA Multicultural Perspective

This type of situation is why the NWI developed the Multicultural Wellness Wheel. The wheel encourages individuals to look beyond their spheres of influence to understand how others might view life. How and where a person grew up, what they do for work, their family environment and “life moments” all influence individual perspective.

The Multicultural Wellness Wheel helps people to understand, without negative judgments, the worldviews of culturally different peoples, and to have respect and appreciation for human differ­ences that enable more positive and effective encounters. NWI Board President and CEO of Altur­native Linda Howard says, “One of the biggest issues we face across the globe is that we do not have a strong multicultural competency model from which to learn. Practitioners and organizations use models that are too focused on one particular issue like race or gender, and as such, fail to reach large segments of the population due to a lack of cultural competency. We see the opportunity to learn from each other through a wider lens that also incorporate such things like religion, disabil­ity, language, age, geography and other cultural factors that are a leading causes of social isolation.”

If people can become aware of their beliefs and assumptions about human behaviors, values, biases, stereotypes and personal limitations, they can open up and learn who different cohorts are as “cultural beings.” They can better see how cultural socialization shapes worldviews and enhances their ability to connect to and work with culturally diverse populations.

Wellness is a simple, though multi-pronged, concept, which emphasizes a mission of connection. Now more than ever, it is critical to consider overall well-being from a more holistic perspective—in terms of our social connections, physical health, intellectual capacity, occupations, and emotional and spiritual coping skills.

Chuck Gillespie is Executive Director of the National Wellness Institute.

Tags:  Accesibility & transportation  aging in community  creativity & lifelong learning  education  health & wellness  healthcare & aging  LGBTQ Aging  Mental health  Multicultural aging  spirituality  Technology 

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How to Keep Your Workforce Population Moving

Posted By Wellsource, Wednesday, April 17, 2019
Updated: Thursday, April 11, 2019

This is the third post in a six-part series focusing on the Six Dimensions of Wellness: emotional, occupational, physical, social, intellectual, and spiritual. Each post features a different dimension of wellness. This post will discuss physical wellness and the importance of combating a sedentary lifestyle.

Part 1: Using Gratitude to Improve Your Population’s Emotional Wellbeing
Part 2: 5 Ways to Highlight Occupational Wellness in Your Health Program
Part 3: How to Keep Your Workforce Population Moving
Part 4: Six Strategies to Promote Social Wellness
Part 5: Keep Your Workforce Sharp with These 4 Simple Strategies
Part 6: Mindfulness: The Focus Path to Spiritual Wellness

woman working out with battle ropesWhen California resident Leigh Ortiz decided to give exercise a chance, she couldn’t imagine the transformation that would result. Workouts, combined with eating clean, and holding herself accountable, left her 100 pounds lighter. She feels powerful and confident.


“My attitude, confidence, and outlook on life all changed for the better because of my HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts,” Ortiz says. “I am loving the muscle tone that I have; I feel powerful and that I can do any activity instead of sitting on the sidelines. Working out is the highlight of my day and I have to force myself to take rest days now.”

We all know that we’re supposed to get a certain amount of exercise each week, as an inactive lifestyle causes risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and early death. But have you thought about how much time your population spends sitting each day? According to some research, four consecutive hours of sedentary behavior is enough to undo the benefits of one hour of exercise. Americans sit an average of 13 hours each day. At first this statistic can seem quite shocking, considering that when you add another eight hours of sleep, Americans are sedentary 21 out of 24 hours a day. But when you consider time spent sitting at your desk, eating, and commuting, the hours add up fast. Once individuals surpass 10 hours of sedentary time per day, their risk of cardiac problems increases substantially, but sitting less than three hours a day can increase life expectancy by two years. So what can you do?

The good news is that office workers don’t want to spend the whole day glued to their chairs. One study found that workers don’t want to sit more than four hours a day, or 53.8 percent of the work day, although they spend 73 percent of the day seated. This means there is great opportunity for you to enable your population to be more active.


The ergonomic solution

The first step is to give office workers the best possible experience at their desk, since they do spend so much time there. Consider investing in office chairs that reduce stress on the spine by keeping the body in an upright position with a backrest that supports the natural curve of the spine, a headrest that supports the neck (preventing arthritis of the neck), and height adjustment that ensures the knees are at a 90-degree angle. You can also invest in sit-stand desks, because research shows they boost productivity, reduce sitting time by over an hour each day, and improve musculoskeletal problems. An employee’s muscle activity is two and a half times higher when standing at work, and standing desks reduce risk of cardiovascular disease by up to 40 percent.

Man doing squats beside his desk


Squeeze in a little desk workout

Okay, so the employees you work with are all set up with their ergonomic desk and chair (and maybe even a keyboard and mouse if you really want to go nuts!). Now what? Encourage employees to make the most of their time at their desk. This could mean sharing videos demonstrating workouts like leg lifts while sitting, desk squats during moments of down time, or lifting up out of one’s chair to exercise their core. Or hang posters around the office that remind employees, “How long since you last stood up?” and “Feeling sleepy? Stand up for a bit.”


Take it a step further

Now that your population has been using the standing setting of their desk for part of the day and has been doing minor exercises in their office or cubicle, they’re eager to really move. Great! There are so many opportunities throughout the day to engage your population with physical activity. Try holding walking meetings instead of sitting in an office. Invest in an onsite fitness center free to all employees. Encourage employees to go on walks during break time. You can motivate them by holding quarterly competitions to see who can contribute the most to Charity Miles (an app that donates to the charity of your choice based on the amount of miles you move) or conducting a month long step challenge. It can even be something as small as encouraging employees to walk over and talk to coworkers instead of messaging them. Every little bit helps.


What if employees don’t have time for long walks or workouts?

This is where the exercise routine that helped Ortiz go from a size 24 to a size 8 in just 15 months comes into play. HIIT is a form of exercise in which short periods of extremely demanding physical activity are alternated with less intense recovery periods. It originated around 1910 with the coaches of Finnish Olympic runners who wanted to train their athletes by focusing on alternating fast and slow runs. Since then the principles of HIIT have been applied to all kinds of workouts.


Benefits of HIIT

Only 23 percent of U.S. adults are getting enough exercise, which puts the majority at risk for high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, depression, and cancer. Many people cite time as their reason for not working out, but HIIT can be completed in just 10 minutes. This is a huge benefit for people who have busy schedules and is great for incorporating exercise into the workday without taking too much time away from work. A great workout can be accomplished during break time!

People doing HIIT training in a gym.And believe it or not, HIIT yields the same health and fitness benefits as long-term aerobic exercise, and in some populations works better than traditional aerobic exercise. One study found that HIIT improved cardiometabolic health as much as traditional endurance training while taking a fifth of the time. HIIT is superior to moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT) in improving cardiorespiratory fitness and it increases the amount of oxygen a person can utilize during intense exercise (VO2 max). Another great benefit of HIIT is that after such an intense workout calories are burned for up to 24 hours in the muscle recovery phase. The employees you work with will love knowing they are burning more calories even after they return to their desks!

Vicki Griffin, RN, decided to give HIIT a try because of the cardiovascular benefits. At the start, she couldn’t run a lap or do more than a few pushups. But Griffin kept at it, and got more than she was hoping for. “I noticed the results of the endorphins almost immediately,” she says. “Even when I’m sore, I always have a positive attitude and a spring in my step! Plus, I sleep like a baby at night.”


So how can you reap the benefits of HIIT in the workplace?

HIIT is perfect to introduce into the workplace because it doesn’t take a lot of time, or require a lot of space or equipment. Try running a weekly 10-minute HIIT class during lunch hour/break time where employees exercise extremely intensely for one minute out of the 10 minutes. One study found that participants who did this three times a week over a period of six weeks improved their endurance by 12 percent. If you want to get creative hold a 50-yard dash at the next company picnic. Encourage employees to take the stairs every day. Organize a monthly jump rope day. Challenge employees to a contest to see who can do the most burpees in one minute. The options are endless!

Give your members the opportunity to experience HIIT for themselves and track their progress daily by sharing our Get Fit with HIIT health challenge with them. You can even turn it into a month long health challenge as a part of your wellness program.


Ready to get started?

Download our health challenge "Get Fit with HIIT” which includes:

  • A basic quiz for participants to see how much they know about HIIT
  • A personal account of how well HIIT-style workouts served one individual
  • The benefits of HIIT
  • Tips on how to best execute HIIT workouts
  • A calendar to track HIIT workouts each day

This is the third post in a six-part series focusing on the Six Dimensions of Wellness: emotional, occupational, physical, social, intellectual, and spiritual. Below are links to the other published in this series.

Part 1: Using Gratitude to Improve Your Population’s Emotional Wellbeing
Part 2: 5 Ways to Highlight Occupational Wellness in Your Health Program
Part 3: How to Keep Your Workforce Population Moving
Part 4: Six Strategies to Promote Social Wellness
Part 5: Keep Your Workforce Sharp with These 4 Simple Strategies
Part 6: Coming Soon!


About Wellsource

Wellsource, Inc. has been a premier provider of evidence-based Health Risk Assessments and Self-Management Tools for four decades, making us one of the longest-serving wellness companies in the industry. With a strong reputation for scientific research and validity, we offer an innovative family of products that empower wellness companies, health plans, ACOs, and healthcare providers to inspire healthy lifestyles, prevent disease, and reduce unnecessary healthcare costs. Our assessments connect lifestyle choices with healthy outcomes, measure readiness to change for maximum results, and drive informed decisions with actionable data.


Works Cited

“3 Ways To Exercise While Working At Your Desk.” Wellsource, 28 Apr. 2015, blog.wellsource.com/3-ways-to-exercise-while-working-at-your-desk.

Batacan, Romeo B, et al. “Effects of High-Intensity Interval Training on Cardiometabolic Health: a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Intervention Studies.” British Journal of Sports Medicine, bjsm.bmj.com/content/bjsports/51/6/494.full.pdf.

“Charity Miles App | Walk, Run, Bike for a Cause.” Charity Miles, charitymiles.org/.

Coldrick, Lloyd. “The Benefits of Ergonomic Furniture on Both Physical and Mental Wellbeing.” Open Access Government, 16 Oct. 2018, www.openaccessgovernment.org/the-benefits-of-ergonomic-furniture/53340/.

“Employees Want to Sit down Less and Walk More during Work Days.” ScienceDaily, ScienceDaily, 17 Nov. 2017, www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171117085330.htm.

“Jarvis Adjustable Height Desks.” Fully, fully.com/standing-desks/jarvis.html

Gillen, Jenna B, et al. “Twelve Weeks of Sprint Interval Training Improves Indices of Cardiometabolic Health Similar to Traditional Endurance Training despite a Five-Fold Lower Exercise Volume and Time Commitment.” PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, 26 Apr. 2016, journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0154075.

Hannan, Amanda L, et al. “High-Intensity Interval Training versus Moderate-Intensity Continuous Training within Cardiac Rehabilitation: a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine, Dove Medical Press, 26 Jan. 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5790162/.

Heid, Markham. “HIIT: High Intensity Interval Training Exercise Really Works.” Time, Time, 10 Aug. 2017, time.com/4893161/hiit-high-intensity-interval-training-exercise/.

“Here's the Maximum Sitting Time before You Harm Your Heart.” Star2.Com, Star2.Com, 26 July 2016, www.star2.com/health/wellness/2016/07/26/this-is-the-maximum-time-you-can-sit-before-harming-your-heart/.

“Is Sedentary Behavior America's Biggest Health Risk?” Wellsource, 21 Aug. 2015, http://blog.wellsource.com/is-sedentary-behavior-americas-biggest-health-risk.

Lee, I-Min, et al. “Effect of Physical Inactivity on Major Non-Communicable Diseases Worldwide: an Analysis of Burden of Disease and Life Expectancy.” The Lancet, Elsevier, 18 July 2012, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673612610319?via%3Dihub.

“Leigh Ortiz - Weight Loss and Challenge Winner Success!!!” Vimeo, 18 Mar. 2019, vimeo.com/218094661.

Molina, Brett, and Lilly Price. “Only 23% of U.S. Adults Are Getting Enough Exercise, CDC Report Says.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 28 June 2018, www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2018/06/28/cdc-report-only-23-americans-get-enough-exercise/741433002/.

“Nebraska Medicine Case Study.” Wellsource, go.wellsource.com/nebraska-medicine-case-study.

“New Survey: To Sit or Stand? Almost 70% of Full Time American Workers Hate Sitting, but They Do It All Day Every Day.” PR Newswire: Press Release Distribution, Targeting, Monitoring and Marketing, 17 July 2013, www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-survey-to-sit-or-stand-almost-70-of-full-time-american-workers-hate-sitting-but-they-do-it-all-day-every-day-215804771.html.

Parker-Pope, Tara. “Really, Really Short Workouts.” The New York Times, The New York Times, www.nytimes.com/guides/well/really-really-short-workouts.

Pinola, Melanie. “How Many Hours You Should Limit Your Sitting To, To Avoid an Early Death.” Lifehacker, Lifehacker, 12 July 2012, lifehacker.com/how-many-hours-you-should-limit-your-sitting-to-to-avo-5925428.

Quinn, Elizabeth. “Burn More Calories With High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).” Verywell Fit, 31 Jan. 2019, www.verywellfit.com/high-intensity-interval-training-benefits-3119149.

“Risks of Physical Inactivity.” Johns Hopkins Medicine, www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/cardiovascular_diseases/risks_of_physical_inactivity_85,p00218.

“Sit Less Move More Posters.” Wellplace.nz, wellplace.nz/resource-library/sit-less-move-more-posters/.

“The Past, Present, and Future of Interval Training.” STRETCH EXERCISE EAT, 14 Apr. 2010, seeadamtrain.wordpress.com/2010/04/14/exercise-the-past-present-and-future-of-interval-training/.

Tigar, Lindsay. “Incredible Body Transformations That Will Convince You to Try HIIT.” Reader's Digest, www.rd.com/health/fitness/hiit-before-and-after-pictures/.

Weston, Kassia S, et al. “High-Intensity Interval Training in Patients with Lifestyle-Induced Cardiometabolic Disease: a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” British Journal of Sports Medicine, BMJ Publishing Group Ltd and British Association of Sport and Exercise Medicine, 1 Aug. 2014, bjsm.bmj.com/content/48/16/1227.short.

Tags:  ph  Physical Wellness  Wellsource 

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Missing the DX

Posted By Molly McGuane, Wednesday, April 17, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2019

It’s estimated that every year 12 million people in the United States are affected by a misdiagnosed disease or condition. Incidences of cancer misdiagnosis can be particularly concerning, unfortunately altering the course of a person’s life. In the beginning stages of many cancers, symptoms can be vague and difficult to differentiate from more common illnesses. A misdiagnosis early on can be very detrimental and potentially lethal if the cancer continues to grow and spread. While the fault of a misdiagnosis of a disease doesn’t necessarily fall on a specific doctor or healthcare team, there are steps that doctors and patients can take to reduce the instance of a misdiagnosis.

Commonly Misdiagnosed Cancers


Woman with a tan applying sun blockAs an unfortunately common skin cancer, melanoma takes the lives of nearly 9,000 patients every year. Melanoma is caused by exposure to UV radiation that is generated from tanning beds and from exposure to the sun. Melanomas emerge on the skin as an irregular-looking mole or dark spot on your skin, but can be easily missed or misdiagnosed.

Health care providers and patients can be more vigilant about their skin by remembering the anagram ABCDE when looking at their moles and beauty spots. “A” stands for asymmetrical, “B” for irregular borders, “C” for abnormal color, “D” is for diameter, and “E” is for evolving in shape or size. These signs shouldn’t be ignored and moles or marks with these characteristics should be tested by a pathologist.

Primary care doctors and physician assistants should also recommend that patients see a dermatologist annually or biannually based on their risk. They should also encourage patients to perform “self check-ups” regularly to be alert of any new or changing skin lesions. Extra diligence could lead to a more accurate and early diagnosis, which is crucial in skin cancer and melanoma cases.

Colorectal Cancer

In many cases, cancer of the colon or the rectum often begins as a growths known as polyps, that grow in the walls of these areas over time. The best way to find colorectal cancer early is through screenings, but the problem of misdiagnosis comes when symptoms are misunderstood and screenings are done too late.

Symptoms of colorectal cancer can be uncertain, like unexplained weight loss, fatigue, and a change in bowel movements and symptoms like these can be misunderstood even by medical professionals, especially in younger patients. Most frequently, colon cancer can be misdiagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diverticulitis, and ulcerative colitis due to similar symptoms including rectal bleeding and abdominal pain.

If pain continues or new symptoms arise, a colonoscopy or CT scan might be necessary to check for any serious issues. It’s also important to keep in mind that colorectal can be genetically connected and 1 in 3 people who are diagnosed with colorectal cancer have a familial connection. Understanding a patient's family history is an important step in diagnosing disease and can provide additional insight into their symptoms. While it’s on the patient to know their family history, healthcare professionals can assist by impressing the importance of knowing that history upon their patients and making sure to ask when issues arise.

Lung Cancer

Man smokingThe most widespread cancer globally is lung cancer, and it can be caused by a number of environmental factors. The most obvious reason for developing lung cancer has historically been smoking and secondhand smoke, but cancers of the lung can also arise from elements in the air and invisible and odorless carcinogens we may not even realize that we are exposed to.

Symptoms of lung cancer, and related cancers of the lung like mesothelioma, often first appear as a persistent cough, pain in the chest, or shortness of breath. These symptoms could be easily misdiagnosed as asthma, COPD, or even a common cold. Lung cancer and mesothelioma are common occupational cancers, so knowing a patient’s occupational history can also lead to a better understanding of their condition. Those who have worked as firefighters, miners, and in the construction industry are more vulnerable to carcinogens like asbestos and silicates.

Breast Cancer

Understanding a patient's family medical history can also help in being vigilant about the beginning stages of breast cancer. Breast cancer affects 1 in 8 women in the United States and the risk of a patient developing breast cancer can nearly double if a mother, sister, or daughter has also been diagnosed.

The beginning stages of breast cancer develop as a lump in the breast tissue but can be missed entirely if screening isn’t done frequently enough. Breast cancer screens are done routinely at primary care and OB-GYN appointments, and self checkups can also be performed to check for any abnormal bumps.

If there are any abnormalities in a mammogram, a follow-up imaging screening, mammogram, or biopsy should be scheduled in a timely manner so that the potential cancer does not worsen. Those who are at a higher risk for developing breast cancer need to communicate that risk with their primary physicians and specialists as well as their family history for the most accurate and timely testing.

How are we Closing the Gap?

Missing a cancer or other disease diagnosis can have regrettable consequences for patients and their families. Both healthcare professionals and those they treat can play a role in a misdiagnosis and they are an unfortunate reality of human error. However, the medical community is taking the time to learn from mistakes and invest in technology that analyzes stored data and can close the gap on inaccuracy. Being able to log patient data from around the world can help better understand symptom patterns and allow for more accurate testing, including mammograms and lung cancer screenings.

The use of artificial intelligence and telehealth in the medical field is helping connect the dots on cancer symptoms, but there is still a lot of ground to cover in perfecting these technologies in the real world. Today, AI should just be used to augment the human work of healthcare and there is still an active role doctors and other professionals can take to avoid a misdiagnosis.

Physician's assistant going over a patient's medical history.

Discussing personal, family, and occupational history and impressing the importance of gathering and communicating that information on your patients is vital to their well being. The more information you know about their health and history, the more accurately you can understand their symptoms. Recommending patients to keep up with an annual schedule of appointments and cancer screenings is another way primary care physicians can help their patients be preventative and avoid a missed or late diagnosis. Communicating closely with every healthcare provider working with the patient including nurses, radiologists and lab technicians is important for everyone’s understanding. Attention to detail and thorough communications will ensure that no important information is missed.

Molly McGuaneMolly McGuane is a communications specialist and health advocate for the Mesothelioma and Asbestos Awareness Center. She is passionate about informing others on cancer prevention and rare disease. Molly's areas of content expertise are cancer prevention, rare disease, occupational health, and asbestos exposure.

Tags:  clinical practice  emotional wellness  medical care  misdiagnoses  Physical Wellness 

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