Occupational health professionals may play an important role in preventive health promotion activities for employees. However, due to a lack of knowledge and evidence- and practice based methods and strategies, interventions are hardly being implemented by occupational physicians to date. The aim of the Balance@Work project is to develop, evaluate, and implement an occupational health guideline aimed at the prevention of weight gain among employees.
Following the guideline development protocol of the Netherlands Society of Occupational Medicine and the Intervention Mapping protocol, the guideline was developed based on literature, interviews with relevant stakeholders, and consensus among an expert group. The guideline consists of an individual and an environmental component. The individual component includes recommendations for occupational physicians on how to promote physical activity and healthy dietary behavior based on principles of motivational interviewing. The environmental component contains an obesogenic environment assessment tool. The guideline is evaluated in a randomised controlled trial among 20 occupational physicians. Occupational physicians in the intervention group apply the guideline to eligible workers during 6 months. Occupational physicians in the control group provide care as usual. Measurements take place at baseline and 6, 12, and 18 months thereafter. Primary outcome measures include waist circumference, daily physical activity and dietary behavior. Secondary outcome measures include sedentary behavior, determinants of behavior change, body weight and body mass index, cardiovascular disease risk profile, and quality of life. Additionally, productivity, absenteeism, and cost-effectiveness are assessed.
Improving workers' daily physical activity and dietary behavior may prevent weight gain and subsequently improve workers' health, increase productivity, and reduce absenteeism. After an effect- and process evaluation the guideline will be adjusted and, after authorisation, published. Together with several implementation aids, the published guideline will be disseminated broadly by the Netherlands Society of Occupational Medicine.