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Well-Being is a Significant Predictor for Identifying People at High Risk for Hospital and Emergency Room Admissions, According to New Study

Middle-Aged Americans with High Well-Being Show Risk Level of People 20 Years Younger

NASHVILLE, Tenn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jun. 4, 2013-- In a first-of-its-kind study looking at 8,800 employees at a Fortune 100 company, the level of overall well-being was found to be the most predictive variable for hospitalization events, even controlling for factors known to increase risk. Researchers found that middle-aged Americans with high well-being are less likely to be admitted to the hospital than younger Americans with medium to low well-being. Those people in each age group with the highest well-being had significantly lower risk of a hospital event. The interaction between well-being and age illustrates the importance of improving and maintaining well-being for avoiding hospitalization events as individuals grow older. The study was published in the peer-reviewed journal Population Health Management.

“The study breaks with the notion that age alone is the primary determinant of poor health,” said Elizabeth Rula, PhD, co-author of the study and Principle Investigator of Healthways Center for Health Research. “In fact, 26-year-olds with low well-being had a higher risk for a hospital event compared to 60-year-olds with high well-being. Well-being is a powerful predictive factor, regardless of age. Research shows improving well-being can keep people out of the hospital, which has a dramatic impact on cost and productivity for employers,” said Rula.

Rula further commented, “The new study suggests that even modest improvement in a person’s well-being may be associated with significant reductions in hospital admissions. Individualized interventions to improve well-being in employee populations should be based on more than just traditional health risks or health risk assessments. Through such research, we are starting to unlock the predictive power that well-being data provide us in forecasting risk.”

Based on the results from previous studies1,2,3, researchers divided people into two groups, those younger and older than 44 years of age. The well-being and demographic data of each group were analyzed in search of factors to help predict who would make a hospital or emergency room visit in the next year. Well-being scores were used to predict hospital events using healthcare claims data gathered over one year following a Well-Being Assessment.

Given that the middle-aged population from 45 to 64 years of age has been shown to have the lowest well-being of any age group of Americans1,3, results of this study highlight the importance of improving well-being in this group—and the value of doing so—based on the stepwise relationship in which lower well-being translates to increased risk of a hospital event.

The study shows that incrementally higher well-being has a strong mitigating effect on the risk of a hospital event in the 44+ age group. Additionally, it found people under 44 years of age who have the highest well-being scores experienced significantly lower risk of an event compared to others in the group.

“This study shines a light on a new area of focus for reducing both health care costs and productivity loss in the workforce, as well-being levels can tell us more than age and physical health risk,” said Andrew Webber, President and CEO of the National Business Coalition on Health.“For the employer community, there is a major opportunity to reduce employee risk factors through well-being identification and improvement. Such evidence demonstrates how using a person’s well-being data can better predict future health care utilization and, most importantly, guide intervention strategies in order to manage risk in a population,” said Webber.

About Healthways

Healthways (NASDAQ: HWAY) is the largest independent global provider of well-being improvement solutions. Dedicated to creating a healthier world one person at a time, the Company uses the science of behavior change to produce and measure positive change in well-being for our customers, which include employers, integrated health systems, hospitals, physicians, health plans, communities and government entities. We provide highly specific and personalized support for each individual and their team of experts to optimize each participant’s health and productivity and to reduce health-related costs. Results are achieved by addressing longitudinal health risks and care needs of everyone in a given population. The Company has scaled its proprietary technology infrastructure and delivery capabilities developed over 30 years and now serves approximately 45 million people on four continents. Learn more at www.healthways.com.

1 Stone AA, Schwartz JE, Broderick JE, Deaton A. A snapshot of the age distribution of psychological well-being in the United States. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2010;107(22):9985–90.

2 National Center for Health Statistics. National Hospital Discharge Survey: 2009 table, Number and rate of hospital discharges. Available from: www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhds/1general/2009gen1_agesexalos.pdf. Accessed January 4, 2013.

3 Coughlin J, Center for Health Research, Healthways. Facets of well-being across the age spectrum in the American population. Outcomes and Insights in Health Management; 2010. Available from: http://www.healthways.com/success/library.aspx?id=618. Accessed December 4, 2012.

Source: Healthways

Healthways
Kelly Motley, 615-614-4984
kelly.motley@healthways.com