One in Three First-Time Participants in Laboratory-Based Wellness Program Learn of High Risk for Chronic Disease
Published on January 31, 2012
One in three first-time participants in a company-sponsored, lab-based wellness program were not aware they were at high risk for a serious medical condition, according to an article published in the peer-reviewed journal PLoS ONE. The study by Quest Diagnostics, the world's leading provider of diagnostic testing, information and services, found that 36 percent of first-time participants in lab-based wellness programs had evidence in diagnostic testing of at least one newly identified common chronic condition.
In addition, 89 percent of those found to be at high risk for chronic kidney disease, 59 percent of those found to be at high risk for high cholesterol, and 28 percent of those found to be at high risk for diabetes first learned of the health concern through their employer-sponsored lab-based wellness program. The remaining participants who were at high risk had self identified as having those conditions. Nearly all of the participants in the study were insured, meaning that healthcare access alone does not guarantee detection of high risk for common chronic health conditions, and suggesting that lab-based employee wellness programs are playing an important role in filling the gap.
"This is exciting research that documents the importance of using health risk data with actual lab results, not just relying on self-reports," said Helen Darling, President and CEO of the National Business Group on Health. "Most employers know that helping employees and dependents understand and reduce their risk factors will improve health and quality of life, while also avoiding serious and costly medical problems down the road. But getting individuals to focus on the seriousness of these issues and the need to act sooner rather than later is a big challenge for employers. These data are compelling because they show that lab-based wellness programs provide medical evidence of serious health risk that individuals really can't ignore."
The study, "Value of Laboratory Tests in Employer-Sponsored Health Risk Assessments for Newly Identifying Health Conditions," is the first of its kind to examine the role that laboratory-based employer wellness programs play in identifying high risk for common chronic disease. It was limited to a cross-sectional analysis of health risk assessment laboratory results of 52,270 first-time wellness plan participants (adult employees and their eligible spouses or domestic partners) conducted between 2003 and 2010.