Promoting healthy lifestyles in the workplace

Tia Haralabakos Uncategorised

A DIGITAL health portal, co-designed to meet the needs of women in the workplace, and their employers, is set to encourage healthy lifestyle behaviours in the office.

The portal will pose as a one-stop-shop aimed at improving diet, physical activity and wellbeing of preconception, pregnant and postpartum women.

University of Tasmania PhD student in the Health and Social Care Unit (HSCU), Ms Seonad Madden has identified the capacity for workplaces to facilitate health and wellbeing in her research.

“Designing something for the workplace was almost a natural transition from designing for the healthcare setting,” Ms Madden said.

“The workplace is an ideal setting to engage with preconception women because preconception health is so important.”

Led by Monash Warwick Alliance Professor Helen Skouteris and supported by Dr Briony Hill, Professor Andrew Hills, Dr Kiran Ahuja and Dr Claire Blewitt, Ms Madden has investigated work-specific barriers that impact healthy lifestyle behaviours.   

Published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health on April 14, 2021, the team found workplace barriers to include heavy workloads, work patterns and unsupportive management. 

The article comments on the importance of influencing health in the workplace as a solution to these hurdles. 

 “Given the high proportion of women of reproductive age in the workforce and the propensity to influence our health, workplaces can extol the benefits of health advancement…”

The portal will initially be available to pregnant, preconception and postpartum community members at the University of Tasmania (UTAS), following a comprehensive needs assessment that identified barriers specific to the health and wellbeing of the UTAS population.    

Part of this needs assessment was a ‘work and wellbeing survey,’ which found 61 per cent of respondents were unaware of policies to support the transition to parenthood. 

“Considering the impact that work has on our overall wellbeing, reaching women in the workplace might just be the answer to getting women to prioritise their health and wellbeing,” Ms Madden said.

Whilst assisting the transition to parenting and fostering workplace wellbeing is not a straightforward process, the portal intends to provide necessary resources to aid the incorporation process. 

“Workplaces will develop their models to suit their workplace setting,” Ms Madden said.

“We will create an implementation guide which will provide information on how the portal can mould into other workplaces.”

Ms Madden’s research has been entered into the 2021 Early Career’s Research Competition, run by the Cooperative Research Centres Association (CRC).

Ms Seonad Madden’s competition entry. VIDEO: Youtube/ @SeonadMadden

To read a summary of this research see our latest CRE HiPP BITE