Faculty focused on workplace wellness continue to steer the discussion

The Illinois Workplace Wellness Study, featuring two principal investigators from Gies College of Business, released results this year regarding the effectiveness of a wellness program conducted at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Those results did not escape the eye of healthcare blogger Aaron E. Carroll with The New York Times. In a report published Monday for the newspaper’s blog, TheUpshot, Carroll lauds the team for conducting a randomized controlled trial on this topic.

Traditionally, Carroll explains, this type of research was “the gold standard of medical research.” However, its limitations have come into view recently. The author defends this methodology, though, by considering its strength as a tool for avoiding “selection bias.”

David Molitor 1David Molitor (Pictured Left) and Julian Reif (Pictured Below Left) – both Assistant Professors of Finance at Gies Business – teamed with Damon Jones of the University of Chicago for the Illinois Workplace Wellness Study.

Their first-year results are just the beginning of the study, but they do paint a picture.

Within this study, the data was analyzed using both methods. Stark differences existed between the two methods.

The observational study showed that the wellness program produced significant benefits – in terms of gym visits per year, race participation, and reduced healthcare spending – for participants of the wellness program. However, the randomized controlled trial showed minimal difference between those who participated and those who didn’t.

Julian Reif 1This inconsistency proves that there are differences in the participants unrelated to the program itself, according to Carroll.

Due to these nuanced findings in The Illinois Workplace Wellness Study, it’s clear that the authors are accomplishing exactly what they set out to do.

According to its website: “The study’s findings will empower employers, public health professionals, and policymakers to make more informed decisions regarding the implementation of workplace wellness programs throughout the United States.”

 

Read the entire New York Times piece here »
Check out The Illinois Workplace Wellness Study website »