The CDC Worksite Health ScoreCard (ScoreCard) is a tool designed to help employers assess whether they have implemented evidence-based health promotion interventions or strategies in their worksites to improve the health and well-being of their employees.
This tool was initially developed in 2008 by CDC’s Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention in collaboration with the Emory University Institute for Health and Productivity Studies (IHPS); the Research Triangle Institute; CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP) Workplace Workgroup; and an expert panel of representatives from the federal, state, academic, and private sector. It was updated in 2013 to include four additional topics related to worksite health (lactation supports, occupational health and safety, vaccine preventable diseases and community resources) which were tested through CDC’s National Healthy Worksite Program (NHWP). And updated again in 2018 by CDC’s Workplace Health Program in collaboration with the Institute for Health and Productivity Studies at Johns Hopkins University and IBM Watson Health introducing another four new topics (cancer, alcohol and other substance use, sleep and fatigue, and musculoskeletal disorders)
To develop the ScoreCard, CDC and its partners conducted the following activities:
- Examined existing worksite programs, tools, and resources1–12 that address health topics and cost drivers of importance to employers.
- Identified new topics and questions for the ScoreCard and reviewed existing topics from the worksite literature between 2005 and 2016.
- Conducted 18 subject matter expert panels involving 67 national experts from federal, state, academic, non-profit, and private sector organizations to review the questions for each module.
- Pretested the original tool with nine employers in 2018. This pretesting was done to make sure that the tool was easy to understand and simple to complete. (These employers were not the same as those included in the main study of 93 employers below.)
- Revised the ScoreCard on the basis of feedback from these groups.
- Weighted the questions used for each topic on the basis of expert ratings of the level of scientific evidence and the health impact of each topic on intended health behavior.
- Field-tested the ScoreCard with a new sample of 93 very small, small, medium-sized, and large worksites for validity and reliability and the feasibility of adopting the strategies highlighted in the ScoreCard.
- Revised the ScoreCard again on the basis of feedback from the 93 employers.
- Edited and submitted the final ScoreCard and a User manual for public release.
Many employers may already be familiar with the CDC Worksite Health ScoreCard, which was first released in 2012. As part of the current update to the tool, all existing questions—wording, citations, and scoring— were reevaluated to ensure that they reflect the best available evidence.
This process resulted in several changes to the ScoreCard, including the addition of 20 questions into existing modules, the removal of 13 questions, and movement of three questions between modules. Other changes included the renaming of both the Maternal Health and Lactation Support and Prediabetes and Diabetes modules to reflect a broadened focus, and the combining of two modules from the 2014 version, Signs and Symptoms of Health Attack and Stroke and Emergency Response to Heart Attack and Stroke, into one comprehensive module titled Heart Attack and Stroke.
Finally, the updated ScoreCard includes four new modules featuring evidence-based strategies on emerging worksite health topics: Cancer, Alcohol and Other Substance Use, Sleep and Fatigue, and Musculoskeletal Disorders.
The United States is facing an unparalleled health epidemic, driven largely by chronic diseases that are threatening American businesses’ competitiveness because of lost productivity and unsustainable health care costs. The medical care costs of people with chronic diseases accounted for more than 90% of the nation’s $3.3 trillion in medical care costs in 2009.13,14 For example,
- Cardiovascular disease costs the United States more than $329 billion each year, more than any other health condition. This includes $199 billion in direct medical costs and $130 billion in indirect costs including productivity loss from premature mortality.15
- In 2008 dollars, the medical costs of obesity were estimated at $147 billion.16
- In 2017, the economic costs related to diabetes were estimated at $327 billion. This figure includes $237 billion in direct medical expenses and $90 billion in indirect costs from disability, presenteeism, work loss, and premature mortality.17
- The total economic cost of smoking is more than $300 billion a year. This figure includes nearly $170 billion a year in direct medical costs and more than $156 billion a year in lost productivity.18,19
Although chronic diseases are among the most common and costly of all health problems, adopting healthy lifestyles can help prevent them. A wellness program that seeks to keep employees healthy is a key long-term strategy that employers can use to manage their workforce. To curb rising health care costs, many employers are turning to workplace health programs to make changes in the worksite environment, help employees adopt healthier lifestyles and, in the process, lower employees’ risk of developing costly chronic diseases.
The approach that has proven most effective is to implement an evidence-based, comprehensive health promotion program that includes individual risk reduction programs that are coupled with environmental supports for healthy behaviors and coordinated and integrated with other wellness activities.20–22However, only 11.8% of US employers offer a comprehensive worksite health promotion program, according to a 2017 national survey.23
Several studies have concluded that well-designed worksite health promotion programs can improve the health of employees and save money for employers. For example,
- In 2005, the results of an analysis of 56 financial impact studies conducted over the past 2 decades showed that medical or absenteeism expenditures were 25%–30% lower for employees who participated in worksite health promotion programs than for those who did not participate.1
- In 2010, a literature review that focused on cost savings garnered by worksite wellness programs found that the return on investment (ROI) for medical costs was $3.27 for every dollar spent. The ROI for absenteeism was $2.73 for every dollar spent.24
Studies have also found that worksite health promotion programs can take 2 to 5 years to see positive ROIs.2–4
Although employers have a responsibility to provide a safe and hazard-free workplace, they also have many opportunities to promote individual health and foster a healthy work environment. CDC encourages employers to provide their employees with preventive services, training and tools, and an environment that supports healthy behaviors.
The ScoreCard includes questions on many of the key evidence-based and best practice strategies and interventions that are part of a comprehensive worksite health approach to addressing the leading health conditions that drive health care and productivity costs.
Anyone who is responsible for promoting health in the workplace can use the ScoreCard to set benchmarks and track improvements in their organization. Examples include employers, human resource managers, health benefit managers, health education staff, occupational nurses, medical directors, and wellness directors.
State or local health departments can help employers and business coalitions use this tool to find ways to create healthier workplaces. They can also use this tool to monitor worksite practices, create best practice benchmarks, and track improvements in health promotion programs in the workplace over time. This information can help health departments direct their resources and support employers more effectively.
The ScoreCard has 154 questions that assess how evidence-based health promotion strategies are implemented at a worksite. These strategies include lifestyle counseling services, environmental supports, policies, health plan benefits, and other worksite programs shown to be effective in preventing disease and promoting health and well-being. Employers can use the ScoreCard to assess how a comprehensive health promotion and disease prevention program is offered to their employees, to help identify program gaps, and to set priorities for the following health topics:
- Background/Worksite Demographics/Community Engagement (17 required questions; 3 optional questions).
- Organizational Supports (25 questions).
- Tobacco Use (8 questions).
- High Blood Pressure (6 questions).
- High Cholesterol (5 questions).
- Physical Activity (10 questions).
- Weight Management (4 questions).
- Nutrition (14 questions).
- Heart Attack and Stroke (12 questions).
- Prediabetes and Diabetes (6 questions).
- Depression (7 questions).
- Stress Management (7 questions).
- Alcohol and Other Substance Use (6 questions).
- Sleep and Fatigue (6 questions).
- Musculoskeletal Disorders (7 questions).
- Occupational Health and Safety (9 questions).
- Vaccine-Preventable Diseases (7 questions).
- Maternal Health and Lactation Support (7 questions).
- Cancer (8 questions).
- Chapman L. Meta-evaluation of worksite health promotion economic return studies. Art of Health Promotion Newsletter. 2003;6(6):1-10.
- Aldana SG. Financial impact of health promotion programs: a comprehensive review of the literature. Am J Health Promot. 2001;15(5):296-320.
- Goetzel RZ, Juday TR, Ozminkowski RJ. What’s the ROI? A systematic review of return on investment studies of corporate health and productivity management initiatives. Association of Worksite Health Promotion Worksite Health. 1999:12-21.
- Pelletier KR. A review and analysis of the clinical- and cost-effectiveness studies of comprehensive health promotion and disease management programs at the worksite: 1998-2000 update. Am J Health Promot. 2001;16(2):107-116.
- Golaszewski T, Fisher B. Heart check: the development and evolution of an organizational heart health assessment. Am J Health Promot. 2002;17(2):132-153.
- Golaszewski T, Barr D, Pronk N. Development of assessment tools to measure organizational support for employee health. Am J Health Behav. 2003;27(1):43-54.
- Fisher BD, Golaszewski T. Heart check lite: modifications to an established worksite heart health assessment. Am J Health Promot. 2008;22(3):208-212.
- Matson Koffman DM, Goetzel RZ, Anwuri VV, Shore KK, Orenstein D, LaPier T. Heart healthy and stroke free: successful business strategies to prevent cardiovascular disease. Am J Prev Med. 2005;29(5 suppl 1):113-121.
- Center for Prevention and Health Services, National Business Group on Health. Heart healthy and stroke safe: the business case for cardiovascular health. CPHS Issue Brief. 2004;1(4):7-9.
- Pelletier KR. Clinical and cost outcomes of multifactorial, cardiovascular risk management interventions in worksites: a comprehensive review and analysis. J Occup Environ Med. 1997;39(12):1154-1169.
- Heaney CA, Goetzel RZ. A review of health-related outcomes of multi-component worksite health promotion programs. Am J Health Promot. 1997;11(4):290-307.
- Pearson TA, Blair SN, Daniels SR, et al. AHA guidelines for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease and stroke: 2002 update: consensus panel guide to comprehensive risk reduction for adult patients without coronary or other atherosclerotic vascular diseases. American Heart Association Science Advisory and Coordinating Committee. Circulation. 2002;106(3):388-391.
- Buttorff C, Ruder T, Bauman M. Multiple Chronic Conditions in the United States. Santa Monica, CA: Rand Corp.; 2017.
- Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services. National Health Expenditure Data for 2016—Highlights.
- Benjamin EJ, et al. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics-2018 Update: A Report From the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2018 Mar 20;137(12):e67-e492.Heidenreich PA, Trogdon JG, Khavjou OA, et al. Forecasting the future of cardiovascular disease in the United States: a policy statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2011;123(8):933-944.
- Finkelstein EA, Trogdon JG, Cohen JW, Dietz W. Annual medical spending attributable to obesity: payer-and service-specific estimates. Health Aff (Millwood). 2009;28(5):w822-w831.
- American Diabetes Association. The Cost of Diabetes. Accessed January 9, 2019.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2014 [accessed 2019 Jan 9].
- Xu X, Bishop EE, Kennedy SM, Simpson SA, Pechacek TF. Annual Healthcare Spending Attributable to Cigarette Smoking: An Update. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 2014;48(3):326–333 [accessed 2019 Jan 9].
- Goetzel RZ, Shechter D, Ozminkowski RJ, Marmet PF, Tabrizi MJ, Roemer EC. Promising practices in employer health and productivity management efforts: findings from a benchmarking study. J Occup Environ Med. 2007;49(2):111.
- Soler RE, Leeks KD, Razi S, et al. A systematic review of selected interventions for worksite health promotion: the assessment of health risks with feedback. Am J Prev Med. 2010;38(suppl 2):S237-S262.
- Heaney CA, Goetzel RZ. A review of health-related outcomes of multi-component worksite health promotion programs. Am J Health Promot. 1997;11(4):290.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Workplace Health in America 2017. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2018.
- Baicker K, Cutler D, Song Z. Workplace wellness programs can generate savings. Health Aff (Millwood). 2010;29(2):304-311.