UMMS Affiliation

Department of Medicine; UMass Worcester Prevention Research Center

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Document Type



Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Health Services Administration | Occupational Health and Industrial Hygiene | Preventive Medicine | Public Health Education and Promotion


BACKGROUND: In the United States, worksite wellness programs are more often offered by larger employers. The Massachusetts Working on Wellness (WoW) program is an innovative, statewide capacity-building model designed to increase the number of smaller employers (200 or fewer workers) adopting health promotion initiatives. This article describes the WoW program design and approaches to recruitment, implementation, and evaluation.

METHODS/DESIGN: WoW provides employer training, technical assistance and seed funding, utilizing a Wellness Program Development framework based on recognized good practices. For-profit employers with 200 employees or fewer are eligible for and encouraged to apply for a Massachusetts Small Business Wellness Tax Credit. During the phase described in this paper, employer organizations applied to the program and committed to designating a champion responsible for program implementation. Interventions were to include policy and environmental supports, as well as those targeting individual behavior change through raising awareness and education. Supports provided to employers included seed grants for qualifying activities (up to $10,000 with matching required), community linkages, data collection and organization-specific feedback tools, an on-line curriculum supplemented with technical assistance, and an expert webinar series. Data collection at multiple time points, from the initial application through program completion, provides information for evaluation of recruitment, planned and completed activities.

DISCUSSION: This model is grounded in literature on good practices as well as in local knowledge about Massachusetts employers. It does not directly address the influence of working conditions, which can affect both worker participation and health behaviors. Implementation may be less successful with some organizations, such as those with many workers who are part-time or geographically distributed rather than in a centralized physical location. Program evaluation will assess the extent to which WoW achieves its goals. The data are expected to increase understanding of the needs of smaller employers and industries not traditionally implementing employee wellness programs.


Intervention planning, Small employers, Worksite health promotion, Worksite wellness

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© The Author(s). 2019. Open Access. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

DOI of Published Version



BMC Public Health. 2019 Jan 25;19(1):111. doi: 10.1186/s12889-019-6405-1. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

BMC public health

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.