Featured Review: Improving the implementation of health-promoting policies and practices in workplaces

Implementation strategies are meant to improve the adoption and integration of evidence-based health interventions into routine policies and practices within specific settings. 

This review examined whether using these strategies improved the implementation of policies and practices in the workplace promoting:

  • Healthy eating
  • Physical activity
  • Weight control
  • Tobacco cessation
  • Prevention of risky alcohol consumption

The review authors also wanted to know if these strategies changed employees' health behaviours, caused any unintended effects, and were good value for money.

Workplaces are a good setting for programmes that aim to improve health-related behaviours like diet, physical activity and tobacco use, as adults spend a long time at work each day. However, these kinds of workplace-based interventions are often poorly implemented, limiting their potential impact on employee health. Identifying strategies that are effective in improving the implementation of workplace-based interventions has the potential to increase their impact on chronic disease prevention. Examples may include a workplace healthy catering policy, employee gym membership subsidies, or tobacco control policies.

The review authors found six eligible studies, mostly in the USA with workplaces focused in the manufacturing, industrial, and services-based sectors. 

Lead author Professor Luke Wolfenden said,

“The findings of the review do not provide clear evidence regarding the impact of implementation strategies on workplace health-promoting policy and practice implementation or on employee health behaviours. Further research is required to meet the need to develop the implementation evidence base, ensuring policies, practices and programs designed to improve employee health are applied and can yield their intended benefits.”