AJHP conference panel will take a fresh look at diverse models to engage workersMINNEAPOLIS, March 19, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Workplace health management programs work very well—for those who take advantage of them. Engaging more employees in these programs designed to help identify and then reduce health risks for a population is at the heart of a panel this week moderated by HealthFitness' Chief Medical and Wellness Officer Dennis Richling, M.D., at the Art & Science of Health Promotion Conference at Hilton Head Island, S.C. The panel, "Bridging Behaviorism: A New Approach to Engagement," will take place March 21 at 11 a.m. and features a structured discussion on behavior change approaches that are usually at theoretical odds in the health management industry. Joining Richling on the panel will be Edward Framer, Ph.D., director of health and behavioral sciences for HealthFitness, and Fred Hanna, Ph.D., professor of counselor education, University of Northern Colorado and author of the book, Therapy with difficult clients: Using the precursors model to awaken change. Follow the hashtag #AJHP2013 for insights from this session and join in the conversation. "Two different models of engagement for behavior change dominate today's population health management landscape, but both have strengths that can be applied to helping individuals take health improvement steps," Richling said. "By identifying common ground and distinctives of each approach, we can come to a unified framework for better participant engagement. And the more people who engage in these programs, the greater the benefit for employers—better population health, higher employee retention and satisfaction, and improved productivity." Employers have embraced worksite health management as a means to enhance productivity and reduce health care costs; between 60 and 83 percent of employers offer some form of health management initiative. Participation varies widely across different types of programs and vendors, but a 2012 meta-analysis of programs pegs the typical participation rate in employer-based health management programs at 20 percent. Richling and his colleagues believe that a science-based approach, utilizing the best applications for motivation, involvement and perseverance in health promotion activities, has the potential to double or triple that level of engagement.