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Health and Wellness Programs in the Workplace: The Role of Medical Librarians in Displaying the Value of NLM Resources and Services

Authors: Ann Gonzalez, MSI, JD, Sandy Oelschlegel, MLIS, AHIP, Library Director, Associate Professor; Preston Medical Library, University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine and UT Health Science Center, Knoxville, TN

Question: To determine the most effective way to partner with employee benefits and occupational health personnel in the industrial sector in order to display the value of National Library of Medicine (NLM) resources and medical library services to industry employees who participate in employee wellness programs.

Setting: Preston Medical Library (PML), located at a 600‐bed academic medical center, has provided the Consumer & Patient Health Information Service (CAPHIS) and outreach to community groups and employees at local businesses for more than twenty years.

Method: An award was funded through the NLM for PML to develop a toolkit for medical libraries to use when reaching out to industry partners. Upon receipt of the funding PML began researching and collecting data on appropriate NIH and NLM resources for the selected industry partner. PML met with the Alcoa wellness contact to ascertain which resources and services would fit their needs.

Main results: Subsequent to meeting with the Alcoa wellness contact the following were developed: a series of newsletter pieces (7), biometric screening‐specific handouts, and “Your Wellness Moment” video files (7). Two health fairs were attended at Alcoa plants. An estimated 33% (n=116) and 44% (n=111) of attendees at the two fairs interacted with the PML booth and took informational material about our Consumer Health Information Service and Medline Plus magazines. Several attendees asked for more information on specific topics. To supplement the newsletter and video material, a LibGuide was created specifically for Alcoa. Another LibGuide, based on this material, was published for all types of businesses. Finally, a toolkit to assist medical libraries in reaching out to industry partners was created.




Conclusion:  We have had the opportunity to make a number of observations over the course of this project that will be useful to other medical libraries. The resources made available through NIH/NLM are viewed as valuable additions to the information currently disseminated by business wellness personnel.  Once aware of the resources, those personnel are likely to incorporate use of the NIH/NLM resources into their existing wellness programs. For that reason, there is merit in continuing to support outreach to businesses.

However, several constraints exist which should be considered.  In large national or international corporations, approval processes for implementing local or regional changes to wellness programming may require several months. Conditions such as economic constraints or business expansion will take priority and consume company resources that might have been planned for implementing changes or additions to the wellness program. Access to employees for assessment of the outreach, while ideal, is difficult due to work schedules, union rules, and general reluctance of the employees to participate. It is also likely that wellness personnel will be unavailable to participate in wellness outreach during the open enrollment period for insurance, which may vary by company.

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