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J Occup Environ Med. 2019 Jul 29. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001671. [Epub ahead of print]

Showers, Culture, and Conflict Resolution: A Qualitative Study of Employees' Perceptions of Workplace Wellness Opportunities.

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Division of Chronic Disease Research Across the Lifecourse, Department of Population Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, Boston, USA (Seward, Linakis, Werth, Block); Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, USA (Goldman); Department of Family Medicine, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, USA (Goldman); Road Scholar, Boston, USA (Linakis); Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Lebanon, USA (Werth); Department of Psychology, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, USA (Werth) and Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Roberto).



Research on employee opinions of workplace wellness programs is limited.


At a large academic medical center in Boston, we conducted 12 focus groups on employee perceptions of wellness programs. We analyzed data using the immersion-crystallization approach. Participant mean age (Nā€Š=ā€Š109) was 41 years; 89% were female; 54% were White.


Employees cited prominent barriers to program participation: limited availability; time and marketing; disparities in access; and workplace culture. Encouraging supportive, interpersonal relationships among employees and perceived institutional support for wellness may improve workplace culture and improve participation. Employees suggested changes to physical space, including onsite showers and recommended that a centralized wellness program could create and market initiatives such as competitions and incentives.


Employees sought measures to address serious constraints on time and space, sometimes toxic interpersonal relationships, and poor communication, aspects of workplaces not typically addressed by wellness efforts.

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