Merging the fitness and insurance industries to treat obesity: Development, structure, and outcomes of the PEIA weight management program

Sam Zizzi, West Virginia University, USA

Theme: Exercise and health behaviors

Program ID: SYM-07

Presentation: October 3, 2013 8:15 am - 9:30 am

Room: Jasperwood


Best practice recommendations related to the prevention and treatment of obesity integrate fitness and dietary services with behavioral counseling (NHLBI, 1998; Wadden & Stunkard, 2002). Few such comprehensive interventions are widely available in the US, and little research has been published on the validity of such approaches, particularly those set in non-clinical settings. Researchers in public health have advocated for more practice-based evidence from real world settings (Green, 2006). The PEIA weight management program provides one possible example of an innovative, insurance funded program that is available at a low cost to a large population of at-risk adults. Document analysis, semi-structured interviews, surveys, and database reviews were conducted to show patterns in program participation and success. Return on investment analyses were also performed to compare the yearly costs incurred by the agency to the reduction in medical and pharmaceutical claims during and after the program. The projected return on investment is 1.4 to 1. Using the RE-AIM model (reach, effectiveness, adoption, implementation, maintenance), the program demonstrates low to moderate reach and adoption, high effectiveness and implementation, and moderate maintenance of weight loss. On average, approximately 75% and 50% of participants complete at least six months and one year of the program respectively, with average weight loss of 6% of total body weight. From baseline to six months, substantial reductions have been observed in depression and medication usage (from 25-40%), while moderate and vigorous physical activity levels increase. It must be noted, however, that the program is not designed as a randomized controlled trial, and therefore the findings, though promising, do not show clear cause and effect. Overall, the program appears to be sustainable and has the potential to impact health in WV public employees for years to come.

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