Should workplace health promotion programmes for addiction go digital? Representative findings from the German lidA cohort study for older employees



The workplace is one of the main settings to implement health promotion for adults. Due to the age-related decrease of health and work ability, older employees are a special target group for health promotion programmes. Digital interventions are often considered an economically feasible solution to increase participation in workplace health promotion programmes (whpp), however, older employees’ lack of acceptance of digital interventions may be a barrier to their uptake. This paper examines older employees’ barriers to participation in whpp in general and the demand for whpp to tackle addiction also taking into consideration their willingness to participate in digital interventions.


Data from computer-assisted personal interviews with 3185 employees (born in 1959 or 1965), who took part in the third wave of the representative German lidA cohort-study in 2018 were analysed. Reasons (e.g. lack of time, inconvenient scheduling, already pursued offers in leisure time) for not taking part in workplace health promotion programmes (whpp) were asked, if respondents had not participated. Respondents also stated their willingness to participate in digital intervention programmes, health apps and digital platforms to improve health knowledge (yes, I already participate/ I would participate; no). The demand for whpp (e.g. no demand/ demand for whpp to tackle addiction/ demand for other whpp topics) was then tested according to their willingness to participate in digital interventions. Further, respondents were asked whether they generally preferred non-digital or digital whpp (non-digital/ digital/ no preference). Proportions and proportion differences including confidence intervals were calculated.


Main reasons for not participating in whpp in general are inconvenient scheduling (43.0%) and that respondents already pursue offers in leisure time (49.4%). Respondents who requested that whpp provide addiction prevention are willing to use digital platforms and health apps more often than those who request other whpp (e.g. digital platforms: requested whpp to tackle addiction 53.6% [95%-CI: 49.0-58.1]; other requested whpp 43.8% [95%-CI: 41.7-46.0]. However, if given the choice between digital and non-digital interventions, a majority prefers non-digital whpp (non-digital: 76%; digital: 6%; no preference: 18%).


Inconvenient scheduling is a main reason not to take part in whpp and may be addressed by enabling more flexible scheduling digitally. Incentives to expand digital health promotion options may improve wphh. Although older employees are more willing to use digital platforms, they expressed an overall preference for non-digital interventions when given the choice. This could be attributed to online privacy concerns and lower digital affinity among older workers. The results suggest that measures to prevent and tackle addiction may show more potential than other topics when offered digitally, in particular via digital platforms to improve knowledge and health apps. Further analyses are needed to examine participation in digital whpp among older workers and identify potential predictors of participation in whpp to tackle addiction.


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