A fairly new program incorporating Web-based education is improving the health outcomes of truck drivers – a prime example of “lone workers,” according to results of a study.
Lone workers are at a special risk for poor diet due to limited healthy food choices, opportunities for exercise, and limited access to workplace wellness programs.
Truck drivers face the specific risks of obesity, diabetes, and traffic risks, according to Ryan Olson, PhD, and colleagues at the Oregon Health and Sciences University in Portland who conducted the study.
After six months enrolled in the program, truckers reduced their weight by nearly eight pounds, on average, and improved their diets by reducing consumptions of fats and sugars, according to the study findings. An increase in physical activity was also noted.
The program – which uses a combination of approaches from Web-based health to driving safety courses and motivational phone interviews with health counselors – was designed to take advantage of the mobile technology (laptops and cell phones) available to truck drivers on the road.
Reductions in risky driving behaviors were reduced as recorded by on-board computers, and drivers who took the extra steps to earn a special safety training certificate, achieved even greater health and safety risk reductions.
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Special efforts were made by researchers to tailor the program to be both appealing and effective specifically for truck drivers. The Web- and telephone-based aspects of the program seemed particularly effective, researchers reported.
“The approach may also prove useful for engaging other populations of lone workers [pilots, salespeople, telecommuters] in health promotion programs,” Olson reported.
The study results were published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.