In response to the assignment from the USNH Board of Trustee and President Steen, the Center for Active Living and Healthy Communities staff have established a new employee wellness/medical benefits cost-containment effort at Plymouth State University.
The Healthy PSU campaign has applied a community-based research approach to engage community stakeholders and to inform the program goals. As an IRB-approved research project, both qualitative and quantitative methodologies have been employed. Data is being accessed from the Harvard Pilgrim Health USNH aggregated Healthy Returns (2009-10) and Health Risk Appraisal reports. Additionally, a customized PSU Health Culture Audit (survey) has been developed and administered followed by a series of community focus groups. Information from these combined sources was used to inform the campaign goals.
A full Operating Plan (OP) has been completed and plans to engage a program coordinator are forming. This OP will serve as the guide for implementing cross-culling strategies to help PSU faculty and staff to make choices to improve health, enhance wellness and resist or diminish the trend of increasing health care benefits costs.
Theoretical Framework (Evidence Based)
The Social Ecological Model of Behavior Change
This Social Ecological model comes from public health research and is commonly used in health promotion research. It provide a lens into how people’s health behaviors are connected to their environments and therefore allows researchers to identify various interventions that would be most successful at promoting healthy behaviors across “multiple levels of influence” (McLeroy, Bibeau, Steckler ↦ Glanz, 1988).
Using this framework, the Healthy PSU researchers identified factors that emerged from surveys and the focus group sessions that inhibited and/or facilitated PSU employees’ health behaviors at four levels of influence:
- interpersonal/social; including family, home and community contexts
- institutional environment (places, spaces, work areas)
- community contexts (at PSU and within employees home communities) and
- system policy factors
By identifying health determinants within each of these levels, we were then able to identify interventions that would have the best chance of being effective at promoting positive health behaviors, improving wellness and providing opportunity for benefit cost-containment for all PSU employees.