In the wellness space, there is always a vexing question: Do corporate workplace wellness programs work as well as we think they do? New research based on the first large randomized controlled trial (much more reliable and useful than the more common observational trials) suggests perhaps not.

The study focused on a wellness program at the University of Illinois in which almost 5,000 employees volunteered to participate. The results were disappointing: There seemed to be no causal effects in terms of how the wellness program affected the activities, health, productivity and medical spending of anyone—both in the control and intervention groups.

This is so surprising and counterintuitive that, surely, other studies will follow soon. Watch this space!

Access the new study

Read The New York Times summary of findings and explanation of how the randomized controlled trial model led to very different results than the common observational study model. And how the study indicates that when a wellness program is offered, the different outcomes seen between those who take advantage of it and those who don’t “are due to differences in the people rather than differences in the program.”

4 thoughts on “Do Workplace Wellness Programs Work? New Study Has Disappointing Results”

  1. To make comments need to know the process they followed for workplace wellness. If followed a personalized scientific protocol, results will be encouraging. That’s from our experience though very limited.

  2. If we do not connect to the employee’s “why” for wellness, there will be no compelling reason to change. As it stands, the wellness programs come across as being a benefit to the employer more so than the employee.
    If an employee sees no personal value in the program, participation will either be nonexistent or inauthentic.

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