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
“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
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.
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.
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.
Kelly Motley, 615-614-4984