Health Risk Assessment – Health Risk Appraisal
Although a program can be designed without one, it is recommended that prior to designing the Corporate Wellness Program, a Health Risk Assessment (aka, Health Risk Appraisal) survey be administered to all interested employees. The Health Risk Assessment is a public health education tool. It is designed to provide individual participants with up-to-date objective information about preventable risks relating to the leading causes of death based on the individual’s age, sex, conditions and habits.
Health Risk Assessment’s include questions related to: exercise, smoking, blood pressure, stress, weight control, nutrition, alcohol and alcohol abuse, safety and mental health. One of the major benefits of performing Health Risk Assessment is that it focuses on the health risks of your employees and enables you to design a Corporate Wellness Program and introduce interventions based on the identified needs of your population. Health Risk Assessments may also provide you with baseline data that can be used for future evaluations of the effectiveness of the interventions implemented in your program.
Before conducting Health Risk Assessments you should initiate your employees to the process through a marketing campaign. This will increase your employees’ awareness of the benefit of participating in the Health Risk Assessment process, the uses of the tool, and the confidentiality associated with the information gathered.
Participation in Health Risk Assessments process must be done solely on a voluntary basis. Employees who volunteer to participate are asked to complete a questionnaire that includes items about their health and safety habits (such as smoking, drinking and driving, wearing seat belts, exercise and frequency of mammography’s). Personal characteristics (such as age, gender, weight, cholesterol level) and family history (prevalence of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, etc.) are also identified.
The information collected through the responses to the questionnaire is then entered into a computer and compared with recent national health statistics and data from relevant health studies such as: death statistics, hospital data, epidemiological data and the U.S. Census. The participants are asked to return at a specified date and time to receive a confidential computer report which shows the chances of avoiding the most common causes of death.
Health Risk Assessments also indicate how the individuals’ chances might be improved by changing any harmful habits or conditions that may be present. All participants are provided with an explanation and interpretation of the Health Risk Assessment results. This can be done on either a group or an individual basis depending on needs and resources. Employees should be provided with a forum in which to ask questions about results or receive clarification about the findings included in their personal report.
The wellness program coordinator will receive an aggregate group report that will contain information concerning the specific health risks of the participant pool. Health Risk Assessments along with the results of the employee interest survey will allow you to determine which interventions will be the most appropriate for the particular needs of your employees and the most feasible based on your staffing and financial resources.
Health Risk Assessments are one of the most important tools used in a corporate wellness program. Health Risk Assessments and the resulting aggregate report provide the road map for the wellness program. Without utilizing a health risk assessment it would be virtually impossible to accurately gauge what interventions make the most sense for your employee population.