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Worksite Health and Wellness Case Study

   

A measuring tape wound around an apple in the foreground with a dumbbell in the background Driver health and wellness topics are being identified by leading transportation companies as key areas for maintaining continued corporate leadership; for continually improving safety records; decreasing health care and workers’ compensation costs and insurance premiums; for increasing employee morale and job satisfaction; and for improving retention of valued “healthy drivers.” (Husting 2005; Husting and Biddle 2005)

Overview

Given the distributed operations in long-haul trucking, the limited access to healthy food options, and the sedentary lifestyle, it is not surprising that the prevalence of obesity among commercial drivers far outpaces that of the U.S. adult population.

Studies in the U.S. have reported overweight and obesity rates in commercial drivers to be as high as 85 percent and 56 percent, respectively (Howard et al., 2004; Whitfield Jacobson, Prawitz, & Lukaszuk, 2007). Obesity is a primary risk factor for many chronic conditions, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, sleep disorders, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis. Furthermore, obesity affects work performance and health care costs (Schulte et al., 2007).

Worksite interventions are ideal for commercial drivers due to the nature of the industry (i.e., long work hours and extended time spent at carrier terminals).

In 2006, Schneider National Inc. (SNI) launched a health and wellness initiative with Atlas Ergonomics to provide health services for drivers at approximately 15 SNI operating centers located across the U.S. These centers offer the following services: physical therapy, blood pressure monitoring, diet and nutrition counseling, and exercise education. Preliminary results from one SNI site participating in the health and wellness program with Atlas showed an improvement in participating drivers’ body mass index (BMI), cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose, aerobic capacity, and blood pressure after 6 months.

Objectives

The Worksite Health and Wellness (H&W) case study will examine and detail SNI’s H&W program for commercial drivers by conducting phone interviews with key Atlas and SNI executives. Questionnaires will be administered to participating SNI drivers and Atlas staff to inquire about their opinions, perceptions, and satisfaction with the H&W program. These findings will aid in the development of recommendations for a carrier-implemented H&W program. The research team proposes to: 

  • Conduct phone interviews with SNI and Atlas company executives and detail their H&W program. 
  • Examine SNI drivers’ and program staff’s opinions, perceptions, and satisfaction with the H&W program through the administration of questionnaires. 
  • Develop a set of recommendations for implementing and maintaining a successful carrier-implemented H&W program for commercial drivers.
Methodology

The research team will work with Atlas and SNI personnel to detail the current H&W program, including the details of how drivers are recruited to participate in the program, a description of the battery of tests drivers complete, the types of health coaching drivers receive, how health achievements are assessed, and what strategies Atlas employs to keep drivers motivated to make lifestyle changes, etc. To accomplish the objectives of the H&W Case Study, seven overarching tasks will be completed by the research team. 

Task 1: Contact Potential Partners/Stakeholders 

In Task 1, the research team devised a plan to approach these potential stakeholders and initiated contact and discussions with each organization. The research team contacted the following organizations: 

  • National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)/National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA)
  • Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) 
  • American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) 

Task 2: Develop Work Plan 

The research team has developed a work plan that will provide a roadmap for conducting the project. The work plan details the procedures for conducting the phone interviews with key Atlas and SNI personnel, as well as designing and distributing the questionnaires to SNI drivers and Atlas personnel. The work plan also details the recruitment procedures with SNI drivers and Atlas personnel involved in the H&W program, and the procedures for collecting and analyzing the questionnaires. 

Task 3: Complete Study Preparatory Work 

Interim Virginia Tech Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval was granted on January 21, 2011 to allow the initial planning and development of the study protocols. 

Task 4: Detail Atlas and SNI’s Health and Wellness Program

 In Task 4, the research team will review documents and materials provided by Atlas Ergonomics that detail their H&W program at SNI. This may include, but is not limited to, program protocols, program results, presentations, driver feedback, etc. These materials will be used to detail the summary of the SNI H&W program. 

Task 5: Conduct Phone Interviews with Program Executives 

In Task 5, key Atlas and SNI executives involved in the H&W program will be asked to participate in phone interviews to discuss the H&W program. The purpose of these interviews will be to collect information beyond those provided in the materials and documents collected in Task 4. 

Task 6: Distribute and Collect Questionnaires 

Upon accessing the secure website with their unique code, participants will review the informed consent forms (ICF) which discusses their rights and responsibilities as a research participant. The research team will monitor questionnaire completion and will cease collecting questionnaires after 200 questionnaires have been completed and submitted 

Task 7: Analyze Questionnaires 

Drivers and staff will complete different questionnaires. Driver questionnaires will include demographic questions, questions about their driving experience, their experience and satisfaction with the H&W program, if and how the program has improved their health, what they like about the program, and suggestions for improvement. Staff questionnaires will include demographic questions, questions about their work experience, their role, experience, and satisfaction with the H&W program, if and how the program has improved the health of drivers, what they like about the program, and suggestions for improvement. 

Task 8: Draft Final Report 

The H&W Case Study Draft Final Report will provide information on the methods, results, and conclusions in the H&W case study. 

Task 9: Final Report 

The H&W Case Study Final Report will be written and delivered to stakeholders. This report will provide information on the methods, results, and conclusions in the H&W case study.

Date

January 23, 2013


 

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control, the average life expectancy for a commercial truck driver is only 61 years, 16 years lower than the national average.
  • Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is one of the principal health risks to commercial drivers. Contributing factors to hypertension include high cholesterol, obesity, and lack of exercise.
  • Few commercial drivers eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day as recommended by the National Cancer Institute.
  • Cardiovascular disease, a leading cause of heart-related illness and sudden death in the general population, also impacts the health and safety of a growing number of commercial drivers in the United States.

Jeffery Hickman, Ph.D.

  • Group Leader, Behavioral Analysis and Applications, Center for Truck and Bus Safety
  • jhickman@vtti.vt.edu
  • 540-231-1500