Date of Award

Spring 2014

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Nursing

Abstract

Two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight, 34% are obese. Obesity leads to increased morbidity and mortality, while decreasing the quality of life of individuals and adding enormous fiscal burdens to an employer. Health care systems are especially feeling the encumbrance of increasing health care costs due to the rise in obesity. Hospital workers, on average, have higher utilization rates and carry a higher burden of chronic illness than employees in other market segments by nine percent. Healthier hospital staffs have less absenteeism, are more productive, make fewer mistakes and report greater overall satisfaction. Nurses comprise the largest section of the healthcare industry; therefore, the health of nurses affects the overall effectiveness of health systems. The goal of the current research was to ascertain the most efficient interventions in which employers could institute to motivate nurses to increase their physical health. The study methodology incorporated a mixed design. Subjects signed a consent form and then completed a demographics questionnaire. Subjects were given a theoretical case study involving Nurse X. Nurse X desired to improve her/his health status in three facets: decrease BMI, increase exercise and to eat healthier. The participants were asked to transpose themselves as Nurse X and rate (on a Likert Scale) which of the given scenarios would best motivate and gain their commitment to increase their health status. The scenarios ranged from employers offering more healthy food options to reductions in health insurance premiums for improved health. Results indicated that over half (51.9%) of the 139 subjects were either overweight or obese, as calculated by BMI. Triangulation was used to bridge the qualitative and quantitative data. From this, six themes emerged which related to barriers nurses face to optimal health: lack of time, difficulty with twelve hour shifts, physical demands of nursing, lack of a supportive work environment, nurse’s belief that employers only care about the bottom line, personal accountability and obese nurses believing that their excess weight was a benefit for their careers. This research suggests that employers should focus resources on the overweight group, as they were the most motivated and committed towards the interventions proposed. The obese group was the least motivated and least committed towards improving their health.

Included in

Nursing Commons

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