About Wellness Corporate Solutions

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Encouraging Wellness Participation: Know Your Population!

Business Insurance online recently published an eye-opening article on racial and ethnic health disparities that should be required-reading for wellness professionals. Because some ethnic groups are statistically less likely to receive preventive care and are more likely to suffer from chronic disease, it's more important than ever to know your employee population.

The article mentions a Hispanic woman whose diabetes remained out of control even after she joined a disease management program. "Upon further investigation and with an interpreter's help, [her diabetes coach] discovered the source of the problem: The woman had been using tortillas as 'utensils,' as is customary in her culture, and didn't think it necessary to enter them into her food diary."

This experience shows that overcoming a language barrier is only part of the challenge. If we're to bring wellness to everyone, we need to understand cultural differences as well.

The article suggests that some businesses may hesitate to go down this road because, as one consultant put it, "If there are disparities, (some think) it's an admission that someone is acting in a biased way, but that's not true at all. Just because we have a uniform system doesn't mean everyone has a uniform experience." I couldn't agree more. When there are gaps in wellness participation, it's our job to address them head-on.

I encourage you to check out the full Business Insurance article for lots more on this important subject.

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