State Employees Getting Healthier

Behavioral Risk Factor survey shows a decline in obesity, smoking.

State employees who receive benefits through the Public Employees’ Benefit Board (PEBB) are getting healthier. They are making wiser food choices, losing weight, and quitting the smoking habit.

According to the 2012 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey of State Employees (BSSE), between 2007 and 2012, more state employees are eating five or more fruits and vegetables a day, there was a decline in obesity, a decrease in smoking, and a decrease in any tobacco use, and a higher proportion reported being in very good or excellent health. In addition to these improvements, several other health measures appear to be moving in the right direction, including an increase in screening for colorectal cancer, a decrease in high cholesterol, and a decrease in diabetes.

Health Measures of PEBB Members

2007

2009

2012

Eat 5+ fruits and vegetables/day

24.9

26.1

30.8

Mammogram screening past two years (50–74 years)‡

87.8

85.4

85.8

Pap screening in past three years (21–65 years)‡

92.4

92.5

94.2

Screened for colorectal cancer (50–75 years)‡

N/A

69.3

74.8

Blood cholesterol checked in past 5 years

80.8

84.9

84.7

Very good/excellent general health status

58.8

65.1

68

Overweight (BMI > = 25 and < 30)

34.7

35.2

33.2

Obese (BMI > = 30)

30.3

28.1

23.9

Ever had high blood cholesterol

30.2

31.4

26.9

Ever had high blood pressure

21.9

23.7

20.1

Current smoker

9.9

8.8

4.1

Current smokeless tobacco user

3

3.7

1.7

Current tobacco user

12.4

11.2

5.6

“You can see (in the report) significant improvements in our health status,” Joan Kapowich, former PEBB administrator said. “We attribute that to our benefit design focus on health behaviors and our health engagement programs and carriers efforts to promote evidence-based care.”

The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey (BRFSSS) was developed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to monitor state-level prevalence of the major behavioral risks associated with premature morbidity and mortality. It collects data on actual behaviors that help states plan, initiate, support, and evaluate health promotion and disease prevention programs.

The BSSE survey is based on the same model developed by the CDC and shares many of the same questions and some of the same methodology for gathering the data. PEBB began using the survey in 2005. The results have provided important information about the health behaviors of state employees and have been helpful to PEBB in designing appropriate benefits packages.

“The reason we look at the BSSE results is because our focus is on long-term impact on our population,” Kapowich noted.

While PEBB members are getting healthier, other employed and insured adult Oregonians are lagging behind when it comes to increasing protective measures and decreasing risk factors associated with positive health outcomes. In fact, only 4.1 percent of PEBB members are current smokers compared to 15.7 percent of Oregon adults. PEBB members also do less heavy drinking, get more leisure time physical activity, and fewer are overweight. PEBB members could learn from other Oregon adults by doing less sitting at work.

 

Protective Measure

Oregon adults (%)

PEBB (%)

Eat 5+ fruits and vegetables/day

23.5

30.8

Pap screening in past three years

85.2

94.2

Screened for colorectal cancer

58.3

74.8

Blood cholesterol screening

75.7

84.7

Has a personal doctor

80.2

86.5

Very good/excellent general health status

62.8

68.0

Risk Factor

 

 

Heavy drinking

7.2

4.0

Binge drinking

18.9

14.6

No leisure time physical activity

14.7

5.3

Mostly sitting at work

52.1

81.3

Overweight

39.7

33.2

Current smoker

15.7

4.1

Current smokeless tobacco user

5.0

1.7

Current any tobacco user

19.2

5.6

 

 

The BSSE also compares PEBB members by gender and employer type (i.e., state agency or Oregon University System). PEBB will be resurveying members early next year using the same survey tool.

 

PEBB designs, contracts and administers medical, dental, life, accident, disability and long-term care insurance, and flexible spending accounts for state employees and their dependents. PEBB's total membership is approximately 127,000 individuals. 

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
http://www.oregon.gov/DAS/PEBB/2013Benefits/OHA9955PEBB_final.pdf

http://www.cdc.gov/brfss/

 

Joanne can be reached at [email protected]

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