Enhance Motivation for Lifestyle Change
At the Occupational Medicine and Health Protection Department of BASF, we find it difficult to comprehend how the very sobering results of a singular health campaign (1) at a Bundeswehr (German armed forces) agency can be applied to other companies. Based on our almost 150 years of experience, the first and foremost concern in health promotion is to enthuse and motivate personnel, to get started with the topic, and then change their lifestyle sustainably. We think that participation rates of less than 50%, and at the end of the German Armed Forces study of slightly more than 15%, indicate that the campaign failed to reach the target group with the approach selected. Any somewhat educated person knows what a healthy diet should look like, that regular exercise promotes health and wellbeing, and that smoking can lead to serious disease. However, the art of successful health promotion is precisely to translate rational insight into emotional involvement and to motivate personnel by means of fun, competitions or incentives to actually change their behavior. Numerous approaches in the workplace setting—all published by us (www.basf.com/arbeitsmedizin), but unfortunately not mentioned in this article—show that a different (i.e. successful) outcome is indeed achievable.
Even types of work which are regarded as stressful, such as shift work, have no ill effects on the health of the personnel at BASF Ludwigshafen; reversely, the conclusion can be drawn that the preventive measures offered by us are effective (2).
Decisive are, however, the long-term effects of successful health promotion. Based on a long-term (>10 years) observation of a cohort of more than 31 000 subjects, we were able to show that it is indeed possible to significantly reduce mortality among participants of health promotion programs (3). It is undisputed that mortality is the hardest criterion in medicine. Dead or not dead is a criterion which leaves no room for interpretation.
Prof. Dr. med. Stefan Lang
Abteilung Arbeitsmedizin und
BASF SE, Ludwigshafen
Conflict of interest statement
The author declares that no conflict of interest exists.
|1.||Leyk D, Rohde U, Hartmann ND, Preuß PA, Sievert A, Witzki A: Results of a workplace health campaign—what can be achieved? Dtsch Arztebl Int 2014; 111: 320–7. VOLLTEXT|
|2.||Oberlinner C, Lang S, Nasterlack M, Yong M: Schichtarbeit und Gesundheit in einem Großunternehmen der chemischen Industrie. Deutsche Medizinische Wochenschrift 2013; 10: 466–72. MEDLINE|
|3.||Ott MG, Yong M, Zober A, et al.: Impact of an occupational |
health promotion program on subsequent illness and mortality
experience. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 2010; 83: 887–94.