Disconnect between employers, employees over wellness, health plan satisfaction

Check out this great article from Employee Benefits Adviser about the disconnect between employees and employers about their company’s wellness programs by Cort Olsen

More than 1,500 employer decision-makers surveyed about the future of healthcare say wellness programs within companies continue to show positive growth among employers and employees alike. However, the study by Transamerica Center for Health Studies also found a strong disconnect in communication between employers and employees regarding healthcare and benefit satisfaction and the commitment from employers to maintain a healthy workspace.

At least 28% of employers have implemented a wellness program for their employees in the past 12 months — a steady increase from 23% in 2014 and 25% in 2015. About four in five companies report their wellness programs have positively impacted workers’ health and productivity, and about seven in 10 have seen a positive impact on company healthcare costs.

More than half of the employers surveyed (55%) say they offer wellness programs to their staff, yet some employees seemed to be unaware that their company offers these programs. Of the 55% of employers who say they offer a wellness program, only 36% of employees with employer coverage say they work for an employer who offers a wellness program.

Employer versus employee perspective
This miscommunication may also contribute to the level of commitment employees think their employer has in maintaining a wellness program within the workplace. While 80% of employers say leadership is committed to improving the health of their employees, only one-third of employees say they agree with that statement.

When it comes to overall healthcare satisfaction there is a similar disconnect, with 94% of employers saying employees are satisfied with the health insurance plan their company offers, while only 79% of employees say they are satisfied with their health plan.

In addition, 90% of employers say employees are satisfied with the healthcare benefits other than health insurance, but only 79% of employees say they are satisfied.

However, while employers and employees may not share the same amount of satisfaction in their healthcare offerings, many companies are making the effort to reduce the cost of their healthcare for their staff.

At least 41% of companies have taken measures to reduce costs, while 71% of companies have taken positive measures in the last 12 months. The percentage of midsize businesses reporting to provide insurance for part-time employees has increased significantly since July 2013 from 13% to 21%.

Still, lack of communication continues over cost concerns as well. While about four in five employers feel their company is concerned about the affordability of health insurance and healthcare expenses, just over half of employees feel the same — even after employers said cost concerns would not be felt by employees.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Olsen C. (2017 January 05). Disconnect between employers, employees over wellness, health plan satisfaction[Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/news/disconnect-between-employers-employees-over-wellness-health-plan-satisfaction?brief=00000152-1443-d1cc-a5fa-7cfba3c60000


Employees putting billions more than usual in their 401(k)s

Interesting article from BenefitsPro about employee’s increased input into their 401(k)s by Ben Steverman

(Bloomberg) — Saving for retirement requires making sacrifices now so your future self can afford to stop working later. Someday. Maybe.

It’s not news that Americans aren’t saving enough. The typical baby boomer, whose generation is just starting to retire, has a median of $147,000 in all of his retirement accounts, according to the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies.

And if you think that’s depressing, try this on: 1 in 3 private sector workers don’t even have a retirement plan through their job.

But the new year brings with it some good news: If people do have a 401(k) plan through their employer, there’s data showing them choosing to set aside more for their later years.

On average, workers in 2015 put 6.8 percent of their salaries into 401(k) and profit-sharing plans, according to a recent survey of more than 600 plans. That’s up from 6.2 percent in 2010, the Plan Sponsor Council of America found.

An increase in retirement savings of 0.6 percentage points might not sound like much, but it represents a 10 percent rise in the amount flowing into those plans over just five years, or billions of dollars. About $7 trillion is already invested in 401(k) and other defined contribution plans, according to the Investment Company Institute.

If Americans keep inching up their contribution rate, they could end up saving trillions of dollars more. Workers in these plans are even starting to meet the savings recommendations of retirement experts, who suggest setting aside 10 percent to 15 percent of your salary, including any employer contribution, over a career.

While workers are saving more, companies have held their financial contributions steady—at least over the past few years. Employers pitched in 4.7 percent of payroll in 2015, the same as in 2013 and 2014. Even so, it’s still more than a point above their contribution rates in the aftermath of the Great Recession.

One reason workers participating in these plans are probably saving more: They’re being signed up automatically—no extra paperwork required. Almost 58 percent of plans surveyed make their sign-up process automatic, requiring employees to take action only if they don’t want to save.

Automatic enrollment can make a big difference. In such plans, 89 percent of workers are making contributions, the survey finds, while 75 percent make 401(k) contributions under plans without auto-enrollment. Auto-enrolled employees save more, 7.2 percent of their salaries vs. 6.3 percent for those who weren’t auto-enrolled.

Companies are also automatically hiking worker contribution rates over time, a feature called “auto-escalation” that’s still far less common than auto-enrollment. Less than a quarter of plans auto-escalate all participants, while 16 percent boost contributions only for workers who are deemed to be not saving enough.

A key appeal of automatic 401(k) plans is that they don’t require participating workers to be investing experts. Unless employees choose otherwise, their money is automatically put in a recommended investment.

And, at more and more 401(k) and profit-sharing plans, this takes the form of a target-date fund, a diversified mix of investments chosen based on a participant’s age or years until retirement. Two-thirds of plans offer target-date funds, the survey found, double the number in 2006.

The share of workers’ assets in target-date funds is up fivefold as a result.

A final piece of good news for workers is that they’re keeping more of every dollar they earn in a 401(k) account. Fees on 401(k) plans are falling, according to a recent analysis released by BrightScope and the Investment Company Institute.

The total cost of running a 401(k) plan is down 17 percent since 2009, to 0.39 percent of plan assets in 2014. The cost of the mutual funds inside 401(k)s has dropped even faster, by 28 percent to an annual expense ratio of 0.53 percent in 2015.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Steverman B. (2017 January 5). Employees putting billions more than usual in their 401(k)s [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.benefitspro.com/2017/01/05/employees-putting-billions-more-than-usual-in-thei?ref=hp-news&page_all=1


Safety Focused January 2017

Sedentary Working Is a Top Health Risk

Sedentary working is a new top health risk that is getting increased attention from health and safety professionals. Sitting for long periods is thought to slow the metabolism, which affects the body’s ability to break down body fat and regulate blood sugar and blood pressure. However, more research is needed in order to clear up some confusion over how employers can protect their staff from the perils of sedentary working.

Although studies have linked excessive sitting with obesity, Type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer and early death, most of the evidence is based on observational studies, which have failed to show a direct connection between sitting and ill health. Furthermore, more reliable research is needed regarding workplace interventions, such as sit-to-stand desks.

While there is not yet a clear answer as to what employers should do to address sedentary employees, there are things that employees can do on their own in order to stay healthy, including the following best practices:

  •  Stand up for at least two hours per day.
  •  Set a reminder to stand up every 30 minutes.
  •  Stand instead of sit whenever it is practical, such as during meetings or while on the phone.
  •  Walk over to colleagues’ desks for conversations instead of emailing or phoning them.
  •  Use the stairs instead of the elevator as often as possible.

The Importance of a Good Night’s Sleep

A poor night’s sleep may not only affect your productivity at work—it can also have adverse health effects.

Although the average recommended amount of sleep is between seven and nine hours per night, the average employee gets six hours and 28 minutes of sleep, according to a recent study of 1,060 participants. Two of the top reported side effects of sleep loss were a lack of attention and taking longer to complete tasks. Both suggest that sleep loss may negatively affect productivity.

The effects of a lack of sleep, such as feeling irritable and not working at your best, are well known, but they also include profound physical health consequences. Regular poor sleep is linked to an increased risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and a shortened life expectancy.

Getting enough sleep is especially important during the cold winter months, when a lack of sunlight can make people feel more fatigued and sluggish.

With that in mind, the following tips can help ensure a good night’s sleep:

  •  Establish a regular bedtime routine. Doing so will help program your body to sleep better. Go to bed at the same time every night, and create a habit of winding down beforehand by doing activities such as reading a book or taking a bath.
  •  Create a restful sleeping environment. TVs and other electronic gadgets can interfere with your ability to wind down.
  •  Don’t overindulge before bedtime. Too much food or alcohol before bedtime can interfere with sleep patterns. While alcohol may help you fall asleep, it can interrupt your sleep later in the night

See the original article Here.


Don’t expect tech to solve benefits communications problems

Great article from Benefits Pro about using technology to communicate with your employees by Marlene Satter

Although technology has spawned multiple methods of communication with employees on benefits, that doesn’t mean they’re solving all the problems in conveying information back and forth between employer and employee.

In fact, generational and demographic differences, varying levels of comfort with a range of communication methods and the complexity of information all mean that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution in workplace benefits communication.

A study from West’s Health Advocate Solutions finds employees’ expectations cover a wide range in benefits, health and wellness program communication. As a result, human resources and benefits managers have to dig more deeply in finding ways to convey information to employees.

One finding which may surprise them is employees prefer live-person conversations, although some do prefer the option to use digital communication channels in certain benefits scenarios. And 41 percent of employees say their top complaint about employers’ benefits programs is that communication is too infrequent.

Employee benefits in 2017 will feel the effects of political change as well as cultural change. Here are some trends…

The top choice of employees for communicating about health care cost and administrative information is directly by phone (73 percent) with a live person; second choice was a website or online portal (69 percent), while an in-person conversation was the choice of 56 percent.

For information about physical wellness benefits, 71 percent opt for the website/online portal, while 62 percent want to talk to someone on the phone and 56 percent wanted an in-person conversation. Interestingly, 62 percent of men and 44 percent of women prefer in-person conversations.

For personal/emotional wellness issues, 71 percent want that chat with a person on the phone, 65 percent want an in-person conversation and just 60 percent want to interact with a website/online portal.

When it comes to managing a chronic condition, 66 percent prefer to talk to someone on the phone, 63 percent would prefer the website/online portal option and 61 percent want an in-person conversation. Sixty-seven percent of men, compared with 53 percent of women, prefer in-person conversations, while 35 percent of women, compared with 18 percent of men, prefer mobile apps.

And there are generational differences, too, with millennials wanting in-person interactions more than either Gen X or boomer colleagues. But they all want multiple options, and the ability to choose the one they prefer, rather than simply being restricted to a single method.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Satter M. (2016 December 14). Don’t expect tech to solve benefits communications problems [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.benefitspro.com/2016/12/14/dont-expect-tech-to-solve-benefits-communications


3 reasons benefits are a game-changer for attracting talent

Helpful tips from Employee Benefit Adviser about attracting new talent by Aldor Delp

Unemployment is hovering around 5%, November marked 73 continuous months of job gains and wage growth is picking up. All indications seem to suggest that employers have positions to fill, which may also mean that workers now have leverage, confidence and options. This is good news for job candidates. But for employers vying for fresh talent, it means the attributes of a company need to be that much more enticing. It also makes me think that a comprehensive benefits package may tip the scales for a candidate who’s considering multiple offers. To put it simply: Benefits can be the game changer.

It’s true that a traditional comprehensive benefit package has always been a successful recruitment element for companies. But given the wider array of benefits employers now can offer, today’s companies can use those elements to differentiate themselves from the competition.

From an employer’s perspective, competitive benefits don’t just help with recruitment but can also bolster retention. While strong benefit packages can potentially become expensive depending on the options they include, replacing an employee can be potentially even more costly and time consuming if a company experiences regular churn. With an investment in more appealing benefits packages, an employer may be able to mitigate the cost, time and effort of turnover and recruitment.

While healthy, stocked kitchens, nap areas and ping pong tables are perks that now reach far beyond the tech industry, many companies are building up three additional benefits areas that can truly change the game.

1) Financial wellness programs. Given the recent recession, retirement still is a growing concern for many American workers. A recent study showed that over the past 12 months, 38% of workers considered delaying retirement beyond the original age they intended and 52% said they will delay retirement because they “need to save more.” When these financial worries make their way into the workplace, employers should take notice. Consider a study from PricewaterhouseCoopers that showed that employees spend an average of three hours a week at work dealing with their finances. That’s fairly significant.

By offering financial wellness programs, employers can combat this anxiety and increase efficiency, while providing a sought-after benefit that many companies aren’t yet offering. Ninety-two percent of employer-respondents in another ADP study confirmed interest in providing their workforce with information about retirement planning basics, and 84% said the same of retirement income planning. Even if employers would like to provide these programs, few offer them, citing several existing challenges that stand in the way, such as a need to focus on other aspects of their business (27%) or not enough resources (15%). Providing financial wellness programs can be an added reward that may help a potential employee lean in your favor.

2) Strong internal training. Providing employees with training and development opportunities can promote retention and commitment. Regardless of the number of opportunities for career development, you can still help employees refine skills and increase knowledge that will serve them in the future. American workers want to learn to hone their skills. In fact, 84% of Americans are excited to use technology to learn in real-time, according to ADP’s Evolution of Work study. This is a benefit that not only can provide employee enrichment, it can also strengthen the talent pipeline to management positions.

However, internal training programs are not what they used to be. According to ADP’s recent report, Strategic Drift: How HR Plans for Change, corporate training budgets fell by 20% between 2000 and 2008. Seventy-six percent of executives see the market for skilled employees tightening and 75% expect high turnover among millennials. Reduced corporate training budgets have perpetuated a cycle of high employee turnover. So, if your organization has strong training programs, it’s likely to stand out from competitors. It may be worth considering internal and external training opportunities, mentoring, job shadowing, cross-training and professional development classes.

3) Workplace flexibility. Be open to the idea that it may be more feasible for some workers to telecommute and work from home for a portion of the week. Workplace flexibility is attractive for many employees and it can help reduce the number of unscheduled absences. Flexible work arrangements — such as the option to work from home, alternative start and stop times, compressed work weeks, or Summer Fridays — can help encourage workers to use their time more efficiently, and underscore a corporate culture that stresses balance, mindfulness and trust.

As job candidates and existing employees take a more holistic view of their benefits, relevant, supportive and flexible programs can be the game changer for them. The right mix of direct compensation and indirect benefits may be the difference between onboarding that “dream” candidate, retaining a top performer, or elongating the search for that precious needle in the talent haystack.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Delp A. (2016 December 12). 3 reasons benefits are a game-changer for attracting talent[Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/opinion/3-reasons-benefits-are-a-game-changer-for-attracting-talent


SHRM Study: Health Care Remains Key Benefit for All Employee Groups

Check out this interesting article from Workforce about the most recent SHRM benefits study by Andie Burjek

Health care is still the king of employee benefits packages.

Nearly one-third (30 percent) of HR professionals indicated that within an employee benefits package, health care was their primary strategic focus, according to a survey released Nov. 30 by the Society for Human Resource Management.

SHRM surveyed 738 HR professionals for its 2016 Strategic Benefits Survey and conducted annually since 2012, in five categories: wellness initiatives, flexible work arrangements, health care, leveraging benefits to retain and recruit employees, and assessment and communication of benefits.

The survey also found that among all categories of employees, health care most impacts retention, said Evren Esen, SHRM’s director of workforce analytics. The survey specifically differentiated between high-performing, highly skilled and millennial employees, all of who were most swayed to stay by health care.

“There are a lot of different ways that organizations can tailor their benefits to meet the strategic needs of recruiting and retaining employees,” said Esen. “And that’s where we see a lot of creativity and innovation. Good employers know the benefits that their employees and potential employees will value and then they shape their benefits accordingly.”

Almost 1 in 5 survey respondents said that over the past year they’ve altered their benefits program to help with retention of employees at all levels of the organization, and the most popular area to change, indicated by 61 percent of respondents, was health care. Just below was flexible working (37 percent) and retirement (35 percent).

SHRM also found that there was a decrease in HR professionals worried about health care costs. Sixty-six percent of respondents were “very concerned” about controlling health care costs in 2016, compared to 79 percent in 2014.

Health care is a big-ticket item, so there will always be concern, said Esen. That being said, the decrease may be attributed to several possibilities.

First, Esen explained, health care costs have been rising, but not at the same double-digit rates they have been in previous years. SHRM has seen this level of concern decline annually since 2012.

Wellness may also have played a role.

“Wellness has been much more integrated in organizations and their health care strategies,” said Esen. “Organizations have found wellness does impact health care costs in the long run.” She doubled down on the point that an employer probably won’t see a decrease in health care costs immediately thanks to a wellness program, however there is long-term potential. Almost half (48 percent) of survey respondents said their company wellness initiatives decreased health care costs.

“That may have alleviated some concern that employers have,” she added. “Because at least there’s something they can do. They have some control. They can encourage their employees to be healthier.”

Under wellness, one notable finding was that although interest in wellness is rising, certain programs are being offered less. In the past five years, Esen noted, programs that have steadily decreased include: health care premium discounts for both participating in a weight-loss program and not using tobacco; on-site stress reduction programs; and health and lifestyle coaching.

“Companies are examining ways to keep wellness relevant to employees,” she said. “Employers, if they really do want to continue with wellness and have impact on health care costs, need to continually be assessing and also be creative in terms of the type of wellness programs they [offer], because just like anything, it will become stale over time.”

See the original article Here.

Source:

Burjek A. (2016 December 1). SHRM study: health care remains key benefit for all employee groups[Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.workforce.com/2016/12/01/shrm-study-health-care-remains-key-benefit-employee-groups/


4 holiday season fire prevention tips

by Caterina Pontoriero

It’s the holiday season and for many homeowners, it’s easy to neglect some of the most basic rules of home safety.

The hustle and bustle of activity this time of year can lead to property damage and injuries that normally can be easily prevented.

Denver-based insurance comparison shopping site InsuranceQuotes and Washington-based research firm Princeton Survey Research Associates International polled 1,000 American adults, asking them to recount the frequency of certain holiday hazards, including injuries to houseguests, weather-related driving accidents and fires caused by everything from cooking mistakes to misadventures with decorations.

According to the study, 16 million Americans have experienced a house fire because of a fryer or cooking accident, and 2 million have had fires caused by Christmas trees and other decorations.

Scott Humphrey, second vice president of risk control for New York City-based Travelers Cos., says homeowners file more claims for fire damage during this time of year than any other.

“Our claim data also shows that fire is one of the costliest claims,” Humphrey says. “If fire results in a total loss, it’s important that homeowners are insured for the total cost to rebuild, not just the market value of the home. Homeowners should be sure to review this point with their insurance agent or carrier.”

Here are some tips for homeowners to help prevent fanning the flames of fire risk:

1. Use deep fryers safely

While experts agree that it’s objectively safer to deep fry your turkey outside, they also say holiday chefs should make sure it’s set up on level ground at least 30 feet away from the home, trees or any other flammable objects.

“Believe it or not, dry leaves on the ground can serve as natural lighter fluid if there’s a mishap, so make sure to rake beforehand,” says Peter Duncanson, director of system development with the disaster restoration company ServiceMaster Restore.

2. Practice basic electrical safety

Humphrey says one of the main causes of fires this time of year result from electrical hazards like holiday lights, appliances or other devices that overload an extension cord or structural wiring in the home.

“It is especially important to inspect your strands of lights for frayed cords and cracked lamps before stringing them up,” Humphrey says. “Also, turn off your lights when you go out for the evening or when you go to bed so you don’t wake up or come home to a fire.”

3. Use candles with caution

Candles are traditionally used in many holidays this season, but despite adding a warm and inviting touch to holiday tablescapes, candles can be as damaging as they are delightful, and Bud Summers, vice president of operations for Tamarac, Florida-based property restoration company PuroClean, suggests homeowners proceed with extreme caution when considering the placement of their holiday candles.

“Avoid setting them near curtains, towels, or anywhere they may be knocked over or forgotten about,” Summers says. “Make sure to leave approximately one foot of space between your burning candle and anything else. Be sure that the candle has a stable base and always extinguish the flame before leaving the house or room, or going to bed. When guests leave, designate someone to walk through each room to make sure candles are blown out.”

 

4. Care for the Christmas tree

When maintained properly, the only harm caused by a Christmas tree is the mess of fallen needles it inevitably leaves behind. But if it’s neglected, homeowners could find themselves with a significant fire hazard perched in the middle of their living room.

Related: 4 tips to avoid a Christmas tree fire

“Real Christmas trees are more likely to start a fire than artificial ones, especially over time as the tree tends to dry out. And it only takes 30 seconds for a dry tree to engulf a room when a fire is ignited,” Summers says. “If you choose to go the natural route, making sure to keep the tree moist and full of water will significantly decrease your chances of unintentional fire.”

See the original article Here.

Source:

Pontoriero C.(2016 December 8). 4 holiday season fire prevention tips[Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.propertycasualty360.com/2016/12/08/4-holiday-season-fire-prevention-tips?eNL=58496aa3160ba015228ec3eb&utm_source=PC360_NewsFlash&utm_medium=EMC-Email_editorial&utm_campaign=12082016&page_all=1


Workplace Holiday Party Etiquette

Here are some fun tips for your next office party from Society Insurance

Your organization’s holiday party is right around the corner, and it’s time to eat, drink and be merry! In moderation, that is.

Letting loose and partying with your fellow coworkers may sound necessary after a long year, but let’s remember the fact that you do have a professional reputation to maintain. Believe me, it’s still going to be about business, no matter how festive the occasion is. Here is some advice to help the evening go as smoothly as possible.

  • Having fun is encouraged! No one wants to go to a dull holiday party, but the key to successful fun is moderation. The last thing you want to do is indulge in a few too many drinks and think the next day, “I can’t believe I said that to my boss!” Monitor your cocktails and you should be golden.
  • Make sure you are dressed appropriately for the occasion. That fun red cocktail dress may not be the most proper choice considering you will be with all of your colleagues, and most likely your CEO and VPs. Hold onto that professional image you’ve worked hard to build!
  • Have your ducks in a row prior to the party. Find out if you can bring spouses or guests, and make sure you get them on the guest list as soon as possible. Knowing where and when the party starts is always a fundamental piece of information that can help avoid a potentially awkward situation.
  • Be sure to thank those who put in the effort to plan the event. It’s always nice to know your hard work was noticed and appreciated.

Happy Holidays, and we hope you have fun during your festivities!

See the original article Here.

Source:

Society Insurance. (2016 December 7). Workplace holiday party etiquette [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://blog.societyinsurance.com/workplace-holiday-party-etiquette/


OCI Press Release, Commissioner Ted Nickel Cautions Drivers as Deer Activity Increases

Increasing deer activity poses more risk for drivers, by Elizabeth Hizmi

Madison, WI—Commissioner of Insurance Ted Nickel reminds consumers to review their auto insurance policy as the season of increased deer activity approaches.

“With deer mating season upon us and deer hunting season around the corner, drivers must take extra caution on the roads for bold deer movements,” said Commissioner Nickel. “Generally, from mid-October through November deer tend to be less focused on their environment and may stray into the line of traffic. Without the appropriate insurance in place, drivers may be faced with a significant repair bill or possibly a totaled vehicle with no coverage.”

Deer hits can add up to tremendous costs for Wisconsin drivers. Deer are the third most commonly struck objects in Wisconsin traffic crashes (behind other vehicles and fixed objects). According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, last year Wisconsin law enforcement agencies reported a total of 19,976 deer vs. motor vehicle crashes.

Deer hits and other vehicle/animal collisions are covered under the comprehensive coverage of an auto policy, sometimes referred to as “other than collision.” This optional coverage is found in the section entitled “Coverage for Damage to Your Auto.” Comprehensive coverage provides financial protection beyond that of collision coverage, including hail, theft, falling objects and deer hits. Drivers should call their insurance company or agent and check their policies to see if they have comprehensive auto coverage.

Commissioner Nickel encourages Wisconsin’s drivers to be aware of the increased chance of hitting deer in the coming months and take the proper precautions including the suggestions below:

  • Be attentive in the early morning and evening hours; this is the most active time for deer.
  • Pay close attention to deer crossing signs; they are installed in places where there are typically more deer.
  • Wear your safety belt, stay sober, keep your headlights correctly adjusted, and use your high beams where possible.
  • If you see a deer near the side of the road, slow down and blow your horn; some suggest also flashing your headlights to scare the deer away.
  • If you see a deer in front of you, brake firmly, don’t swerve, stay in your lane and bring your vehicle to a controlled stop. It is better to hit the deer than to swerve and lose control of your vehicle and risk rolling over or hitting a tree or oncoming traffic.
  • If you hit a deer, do not leave your vehicle. The injured deer could hurt you. Try to get your car off the road and call the police.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Hizmi, E. (2016 October 20). Press release, October 20, 2016, commissioner ted nickel cautions drivers as deer activity increases. [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://oci.wi.gov/Pages/PressReleases/20161020Deer.aspx


Non-drug approaches to pain management prove effective

Helpful insights on pain coping techniques from Industrial Safety & Hygiene News (ISHN)

Data from a review of U.S.-based clinical trials published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings suggest that some of the most popular complementary health approaches — such as yoga, tai chi, and acupuncture — appear to be effective tools for helping to manage common pain conditions. The review was conducted by a group of scientists from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) at the National Institutes of Health.

Millions of Americans suffer from persistent pain that may not be fully relieved by medications. They often turn to complementary health approaches to help, yet primary care providers have lacked a robust evidence base to guide recommendations on complementary approaches as practiced and available in the United States. The new review gives primary care providers — who frequently see patients with chronic pain — tools to inform decision-making on how to help manage that pain.

“For many Americans who suffer from chronic pain, medications may not completely relieve pain and can produce unwanted side effects. As a result, many people may turn to nondrug approaches to help manage their pain,” said Richard L. Nahin, Ph.D., NCCIH’s lead epidemiologist and lead author of the analysis. “Our goal for this study was to provide relevant, high-quality information for primary care providers and for patients who suffer from chronic pain.”

The researchers reviewed 105 U.S.-based randomized controlled trials, from the past 50 years, that were relevant to pain patients in the United States and met inclusion criteria. Although the reporting of safety information was low overall, none of the clinical trials reported significant side effects due to the interventions.

The review focused on U.S.-based trial results on seven approaches used for one or more of five painful conditions — back pain, osteoarthritis, neck pain, fibromyalgia, and severe headaches and migraine — and found promise in the following for safety and effectiveness in treating pain:

  • Acupuncture and yoga for back pain
  • Acupuncture and tai chi for osteoarthritis of the knee
  • Massage therapy for neck pain with adequate doses and for short-term benefit
  • Relaxation techniques for severe headaches and migraine.

Though the evidence was weaker, the researchers also found that massage therapy, spinal manipulation, and osteopathic manipulation may provide some help for back pain, and relaxation approaches and tai chi might help people with fibromyalgia.

“These data can equip providers and patients with the information they need to have informed conversations regarding non-drug approaches for treatment of specific pain conditions,” said David Shurtleff, Ph.D., deputy director of NCCIH. “It’s important that continued research explore how these approaches actually work and whether these findings apply broadly in diverse clinical settings and patient populations.”

Read more about this report at nccih.nih.gov/pain_review.

About the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH): NCCIH’s mission is to define, through rigorous scientific investigation, the usefulness and safety of complementary and integrative health approaches and their roles in improving health and health care. For additional information, call NCCIH’s Clearinghouse toll free at 1-888-644-6226, or visit the NCCIH Web site at nccih.nih.gov. Follow us on Twitter (link is external),Facebook (link is external), and YouTube.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

See the original article Here.

Reference

Nahin RL, Boineau R, Khalsa PS, Stussman BJ, Weber WJ. (2016 September 7).  Evidence-based evaluation of complementary health approaches for pain management in the United States. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2016;91(9):1292-1306. Retrieved from address http://www.ishn.com/articles/104834-non-drug-approaches-to-pain-management-prove-effective