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The Scientific World Journal
Volume 2015, Article ID 937063, 8 pages
Research Article

The Productivity Dilemma in Workplace Health Promotion

Department of Medicine, University of Connecticut Health Center, 263 Farmington Avenue, Farmington, CT 06030-2017, USA

Received 29 January 2015; Revised 16 June 2015; Accepted 21 June 2015

Academic Editor: Lars L. Andersen

Copyright © 2015 Martin Cherniack. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. Worksite-based programs to improve workforce health and well-being (Workplace Health Promotion (WHP)) have been advanced as conduits for improved worker productivity and decreased health care costs. There has been a countervailing health economics contention that return on investment (ROI) does not merit preventive health investment. Methods/Procedures. Pertinent studies were reviewed and results reconsidered. A simple economic model is presented based on conventional and alternate assumptions used in cost benefit analysis (CBA), such as discounting and negative value. The issues are presented in the format of 3 conceptual dilemmas. Principal Findings. In some occupations such as nursing, the utility of patient survival and staff health is undervalued. WHP may miss important components of work related health risk. Altering assumptions on discounting and eliminating the drag of negative value radically change the CBA value. Significance. Simple monetization of a work life and calculation of return on workforce health investment as a simple alternate opportunity involve highly selective interpretations of productivity and utility.