According to the latest health and wellness survey conducted by Ohio State University, faculty and other staff respondents who reported higher beliefs in their ability to engage in healthy lifestyle behaviors also reported more participation in behaviors that support their overall health.

This is great news according to Bernadette Melnyk, Ohio State’s chief wellness officer and dean of the College of Nursing, who spearheaded the survey. It proves that one’s pursuit of health and wellness doesn’t have to stop when the workday begins.

3,959 Ohio State staff and faculty responded to the survey, and almost two-thirds of those who reported their sex were women. Of those who identified their university roles, faculty represented 18.4 percent of respondents, and the highest percentage of responses, 30 percent, came from administrative staff. Almost 73 percent of respondents were based at the Columbus campus.

“Implementing programs that can strengthen faculty and staff’s beliefs about engaging in wellness and improve their ability to engage in healthy behaviors will impact what they actually do in terms of leading a healthy lifestyle,” Melnyk said.

While many academic institutions have taken important steps to foster a more healthful work environment, some obstacles still continue to hinder broader faculty and staff engagement in wellness activities. This also includes a lack of workplace flexibility and perceived low leader support.

The survey suggested that the research highlights identified at Ohio State are fairly typical in institutions across the U.S. “In the Ohio State survey…how people perceive that their leaders support and role-model healthy behaviors was relatively low, so we need the leaders in our academic institutions to support health and wellness programs in their units and to role-model those behaviors,” Melnyk insisted.

The appointment of Melnyk as the university’s first chief wellness officer shows that Ohio State is serious about taking care of its own, she said. With an estimated 31.2 million students, faculty and staff working and learning in higher education institutions across the country, universities should feel compelled to create an environment that supports health and well-being.

When asked what one thing would help with participation in wellness activities at their institutions, the most common responses were:

  • Flexibility in work schedules/time to participate
  • A culture that encourages wellness
  • Good communication about available programs and activities
  • Leaders/administrators being fully engaged and supporting wellness
  • Convenient locations and improved access to wellness resources.

Source:  Ohio University | One’s pursuit of health and wellness doesn’t stop when work day begins, says wellness officer | April 25, 2013 |

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