Journal Article

Why do managers allocate resources to workplace health promotion programmes in countries with national health coverage?

Angela M. Downey and David J. Sharp

in Health Promotion International

Volume 22, issue 2, pages 102-111
Published in print June 2007 | ISSN: 0957-4824
Published online March 2007 | e-ISSN: 1460-2245 | DOI:
Why do managers allocate resources to workplace health promotion programmes in countries with national health coverage?

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There is extensive evidence that worksite health promotion (WHP) programmes reduce healthcare costs and improve employee productivity. In many countries, a large proportion of healthcare costs are borne by the state. While the full benefits of WHP are still created, they are shared between employers and the state, even though the employer bears the full (after-tax) cost. Employers therefore have a lower incentive to implement WHP activity. We know little about the beliefs of managers with decision responsibility for the approval and implementation of WHP programmes in this context. This article reports the results of a study of the attitudes of Canadian senior general managers (GMs) and human resource managers (HRMs) in the auto parts industry in Ontario, Canada towards the consequences of increasing discretionary spending on WHP, using Structural Equation Modelling and the Theory of Planned Behaviour. We identified factors that explain managers' intentions to increase discretionary spending on wellness programmes. While both senior GMs and HRMs are motivated primarily by their beliefs that WHP reduces indirect costs of health failure, GMs were also motivated by their moral responsibility towards employees (but surprisingly HRMs were not). Importantly, HRMs, who usually have responsibility for WHP, felt constrained by a lack of power to commit resources. Most importantly, we found no social expectation that organizations should provide WHP programmes. This has important implications in an environment where the adoption of WHP is very limited and cost containment within the healthcare system is paramount.

Keywords: worksite health promotion; structural equation modelling; Theory of Planned Behaviour

Journal Article.  4413 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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