Risk assessment and behavior changes

Regardless of age or stage in life, there are many factors that attribute to health and wellbeing. While one cannot overcome genetic predisposition, one can have risk and health assessments completed in order to begin the steps toward necessary behavior changes. In addition, while the long-term effects of this approach are unknown, health risk assessments are a method that has been successfully used in working-age populations and is a promising method for cost-effective health promotion and preventive care in older individuals, as well.

Potentially avoidable risk factors continue to cause unnecessary disability and premature death. Having a health risk assessment is a promising way to initiate cost-effective health promotion and preventive care. However, the long-term effects of this approach are just beginning to come to light.

While programs that encourage a healthy lifestyle and the uptake of preventative care among older people are a health policy priority worldwide, including risk assessments resulted in better health behaviors, increased use of preventative care, and improved survival. This was true for both those of working age and those in retirement.

When it comes to those in the workplace, studies show that programs that have a health risk assessment component, along with tailored feedback simultaneously increase both awareness of risk and improve the number of participants that begin a regime that includes health and behavior changes.

In fact, more than half of the employees who voluntarily participated in a risk and health assessment program that included tailored feedback reported to have started a behavior change. Furthermore, this change was more frequent among those at high cardiovascular risk and elevated body mass index levels. In general, those employees that voluntarily participated reported to be satisfied with the assessment, and also positively associated it with the initiation of the behavior change. These study’s findings go on to show that, among voluntary participating employees, a program that includes tailored feedback tends to motivate those in greatest need of change and can be a valuable part of workplace health promotion programs.

In older adults, risk assessment programs were exclusively effective for intermediate outcomes and that only occurred if older individuals received the assessment combined with some form of personal reinforcement. However, this model improves longevity and as it helps an aging population avoid risk factors from both unhealthy lifestyles and failure to engage in preventative care. For example, older people tend to be less physically active, smoke, drink too much alcohol, and fail to have regular blood pressure checks or annual influenza vaccinations completed.

These assessments and other methods to improve positive behavior changes are imperative at this time as the American population known as the baby boomer generation are retiring or soon to reach retirement age. In addition, the government continues to change healthcare, its costs, and affordability. Furthermore, employers are always looking for ways to reduce risk and keep people from not being able to work due to illness or injury. Health and risk assessments may be just what the doctor and boss ordered.