Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Health Management and Systems Sciences

Degree Program

Public Health Sciences with a specialization in Health Management, PhD

Committee Chair

Olson Allen, Susan

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Esterhay, Robert

Committee Member

Esterhay, Robert

Committee Member

Roelfs, David J.

Committee Member

Taylor, James

Author's Keywords

workplace wellness; Louisville organizations; health; wellness


Employers in the Southern Indiana and Greater Louisville region are looking for strategies to help them become a healthier workplace. Many employers see the expense of paying for an unhealthy workforce and they are looking to limit these expenses. The purpose of the study is to determine the state of workplace wellness activities in organizations in Southern Indiana and Greater Louisville. Due to the poor health statuses of Indiana and Kentucky, 39th and 45th, respectively, this study is significant for a number of stakeholders in our area. The purpose of this case study was to understand the state of health and wellness of organizations in Southern Indiana and Greater Louisville, according to the Centers for Disease Control Health Scorecard (CDC, 2014). Participants were first given the Centers for Disease Control Health Scorecard (CDC HSC) to develop a consistent quantitative baseline. The CDC HSC is a 125 question, 264-point survey that covers a diverse set of work place wellness initiatives. During the survey, participants were encouraged to elaborate on any aspect of the CDC HSC, such as organizational structure, tobacco control, physical activity, or any of the other categories included. Participants were then asked a series of open-ended interview questions to explore the ways they are, or are not, addressing the health and wellness in their workplace. The population from the study includes organizations from Southern Indiana and Greater Louisville. The results of the interviews were transcribed and compared to themes in the literature for patterns, themes, and outliers. Twenty-five organizations were included in the study, including a sole proprietorship that shares the thoughts of a mid-20s entrepreneur in the technology industry. The individuals in the study phase have a variety of roles in their organizations, so it is assumed they represent the majority of the workforce in their knowledge of the wellness programs. The pilot study focused on managers and human resources personnel and the researcher felt they were biased in their knowledge of the programs. The organizations vary in size, by industry, for-profit versus non-profit, and in the positions of the respondents. The worksite wellness information is organized in the same order as the categories of the Centers for Disease Control Health Scorecard (CDC HSC). The interview material is presented by sharing the data from high, middle, and low-scoring organizations, respectively. This study found that the importance of leveraging the knowledge of experts can increase the HSC score. Additionally, a variety of wellness programs lead to more employee engagement to help employees find a method of engaging that suits them. Organizations that remove obstacles and open doors can allow healthy actions to naturally take place, through Choice Architecture without coercing or incentivizing employees to participate. Safety was a major theme in the study, even when other aspects of wellness were not present. Smoking and chronic disease management were major challenges for organizations, even when they had robust wellness programs and scored highly on the CDC HSC.