Last week I reflected on the status of health promotion and wellness worldwide with key five statements. I have another five for you – here is part 2:

10 Key Statements About Global Health Promotion and Wellness

(Part 2)

6.  Health promotion and wellness is a growth field.

The concept of health promotion and wellness is gaining in significance in many countries evidenced by the growth in public, academic and corporate programming as well as in research studies and vendors. Employers are recognizing that the public health care system “won’t cut it” and are becoming more proactive in managing the health of their employees. Therefore, further growth is expected in the field. The government and state agencies play a larger role in most countries compared to the US and often support corporate programs. For example, in Germany the publicly funded health insurances provide resources and incentives for workplace health promotion and in Singapore the government provides a matching grant to start a corporate wellness program.


7.  Productivity is the universal driver for workplace health promotion.

The term presenteeism is becoming popular across the globe. As efforts to curb absenteeism have reached their limits, employers are recognizing that presenteeism has a much larger impact on employee productivity. However, most research and instruments to measure presenteeism originate in the US and skepticism with regard to the validity of such instruments exists. Most European initiatives regarding presenteeism focus on employee satisfaction and engagement, the direct link to lifestyle issues has yet to be explored.


8.  Global health promotion service providers do not really exist

As much as employers ask for global (or regional) service providers they are virtually non-existent due to the many challenges in providing such a service (language, culture, staffing, economically viable model, etc.). Some vendors provide some form of international service, e.g., health risk appraisal employee assistance programs, healthcare and benefits consulting. However, none of these are truly global and merely cover one area of comprehensive health promotion programming.


9.  Programming cannot follow a one-size-fits-all approach as cultural nuances and system differences exist.

In spite of the cited globally prevalent health risks a one-size-fits-all approach will not work and has failed in the past. First, the envisioned service has to fit within the existing health care system and cater to the drivers (e.g., not as cost-oriented as in the US). The implementation of health promotion programs can be tricky due to a number of issues: data privacy as a “sacred” value, health as a personal issue, type of incentives, coaching, competition, communication, language, etc. It is a fine line between developing standardized global services and catering to the country-specific differences.


10.  Certain health promotion programming needs are global.

Next to targeting the major health risks – nutrition, physical inactivity, smoking, and stress – certain programming elements are common in many countries. For example, corporate fitness programs, either on-site facilities or subsidizing commercial gym memberships, have proven to be a good foundation for wellness programs worldwide. How the facility will be run including staffing and finances, what programs to offer, and how to involve employees, will differ from country to country. Another example is biometric screening at the workplace. Although such testing is provided by a general practitioner in many health care systems, it proves popular with employees and provides valuable information. Other areas growing in popularity internationally are health risk appraisals (HRAs) and coaching although some considerable barriers exist implementing these.