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Let’s work out: communication in workplace wellness programs

Tricia J. Burke (Department of Communication Studies, Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas, USA)
Stephanie L. Dailey (Department of Communication Studies, Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas, USA)
Yaguang Zhu (Department of Communication Studies, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, USA)

International Journal of Workplace Health Management

ISSN: 1753-8351

Article publication date: 3 April 2017



People spend a lot of time communicating with their co-workers each day; however, research has yet to explore how colleagues influence each other’s health behaviors. The purpose of this paper is to examine the association between health-related communication and health behaviors among co-workers in a workplace wellness program.


Participants (n=169) were recruited from a large south-western university and its local school district through e-mail announcements sent from a wellness administrator. Participants were part of a workplace wellness program that offers several daily group fitness classes, as well as cooking classes, and other educational programs for faculty and staff.


Structural equation modeling was used to examine the association between people’s perceived social influence and social support from co-workers, organizational socialization and their health behaviors. Results indicated that perceived social influence from co-workers had an indirect effect on people’s health behaviors through their perceived social support from their co-workers, as well as through their organizational socialization.

Research limitations/implications

These variables were examined cross-sectionally, meaning that causal relationships and directionality cannot be determined in this study.

Practical implications

Co-worker communication and socialization appear to be important factors in understanding individuals’ health behaviors; thus, organizations that offer workplace wellness programs should provide opportunities for socialization and co-worker communication to facilitate employees’ healthy behaviors.


Although the authors only looked at one wellness program and did not examine these variables in programs of varying sizes and types, this study uniquely incorporates interpersonal and organizational communication perspectives in order to give new insight into co-workers’ health-related communication.



J. Burke, T., L. Dailey, S. and Zhu, Y. (2017), "Let’s work out: communication in workplace wellness programs", International Journal of Workplace Health Management, Vol. 10 No. 2, pp. 101-115.



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