Using sequential e-mail messages to promote health behaviors: evidence of feasibility and reach in a worksite sample
Department of Orthopedics and Physical Rehabilitation
Adult; Aged; *Electronic Mail; Feasibility Studies; Female; Food Habits; Fruit; *Health Behavior; Health Promotion; Health Surveys; Humans; Male; Middle Aged; Motor Activity; *Occupational Health; Vegetables
Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences | Women's Studies
BACKGROUND: US adults report suboptimal physical activity and fruit and vegetable intake. Innovative strategies to promote healthy behaviors are needed. Employee health promotion programs have been associated with reductions in health risks but are labor-intensive and costly to implement. E-mail and Web-based worksite programs have the potential to reach a broad adult population and to provide a cost-effective approach to employee wellness programming.
OBJECTIVE: To assess the feasibility of using sequential e-mail messages to promote physical activity and increase fruit and vegetable intake among employed adults.
METHODS: Employees at one worksite of a large insurance company in New York State were invited to participate. Interested workers provided written consent. After completing a baseline survey, participants received daily e-mails, Monday through Friday, for 26 weeks. The e-mails provided (a) succinct strategies to encourage physical activity or increase fruit and vegetable intake and (b) links to detailed Web-based information and tools. Program reach was assessed by the number of e-mails opened, measures of sustained participation over 6 months, and the number of health-related Web-links clicked.
RESULTS: Of 960 employees, 388 (40%) consented to participate; of these, 345 (89%) completed the baseline health survey. After 6 months, 70% of the 345 participants had opened 50% or more of the daily e-mails. In addition, 75% of participants continued to open at least one e-mail a week through week 26 of the study. E-mail opening rates did not vary by gender, age, income, education, ethnicity, or baseline health behavior.
CONCLUSIONS: The rate of enrollment and sustained participation document the feasibility, broad reach, employee acceptance, and potential value of using electronic communications for health promotion in the workplace.
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Citation: J Med Internet Res. 2006 Mar 30;8(1):e3. Link to article on publisher’s site