Who We Are

The Workplace Health Group (WHG) is a multidisciplinary research and training group founded in 1999 by emeritus professors Dr. David DeJoy and Dr. Mark Wilson in the UGA College of Public Health’s Department of Health Promotion and Behavior.

What Do We Do

The WHG conducts research on workplace health and organizational effectiveness. This work is fostered through multi-disciplinary collaboration and partnerships with business and industry and governments.  With approximately two-thirds of the U.S. population employed, workplaces are an increasingly important part of our public health system.

In addition to scientific investigation, the WHG disseminates research findings to clinicians, researchers, policy-makers, practitioners, and employer and employee groups to promote the health and safety of working people; encourages and facilitates graduate education; and participates in service and outreach activities with organizations attempting to better the health and safety of their employees.  The research team has in depth experience and expertise in creating and conducting group and environmental interventions,  translation of interventions to worksites, measurement of workplace constructs and outcomes, training of site personnel to support interventions, conducting formative research and process evaluations of worksite interventions and data analysis of large complex data sets.

Why We Do it

The Workplace Health Group is dedicated to the proposition that healthy people and healthy workplaces are key ingredients of business and organizational success. Through our research, we work to understand the many complex links between work and health and how these impact individual’s quality of life.

The WHG includes faculty and graduate students from a number of different disciplines including public health, psychology, management, sociology, human resources, nutrition and exercise science. Participants in the group share a common interest in the work-health relationship and in maximizing the health and well-being of the workforce. Not only are we interested in using the workplace as a setting for disease and injury prevention programming, we are also committed to making organizations healthier and safer places in which to work.  Healthy workers and healthy and safe workplaces nurture healthy organizations which result in healthy communities.

How Can You Contact Us?

Workplace Health Group
University of Georgia College of Public Health
Department of Health Promotion and Behavior
128 Wright Hall
100 Foster Road, Health Sciences Campus
Athens, GA 30602
office: 706.542.4328
toll-free: 1.888.665.6285
fax: 706.542.4956

Meet the WHG Team


Graduate Research Assistants


Below is a list of some of our alumni who contributed to the research conducted in the Workplace Health Group during their time as students at the University of Georgia.

  • Lindsay Della, Associate Professor, University of Louisville
  • Kristin Parker, Senior Associate, Mercer Health and Benefits
  • Todd Smith, Assistant Professor, Indiana University
  • Andie Brace, Assistant Professor, Towson University
  • Marcus Butts, Associate Professor of Management, University of Texas – Arlington
  • Hettie Richardson, Associate Professor of Management Chair of the Department of Management, Texas Christian University
  • Tania Basta, Associate Professor, Ohio University
Current Projects

Current Projects

Evaluation of Worksite Wellness Programs

This is a contract with the Georgia Department of Public Health to evaluate wellness programs offered to their employees.  Current activities include:  the evaluation of Holiday Survivor, a weight prevention program conducted during the holidays; an evaluation of standing workstations that are being installed for select employees; the development of a training program for managers of the organization that will foster support for employee wellness activities; and conducting a health climate survey of all employees.  The evaluation is funded by the Georgia Department of Public Health.

Putting CDSMP to Work

This purpose of this study is to translate the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP), developed at Stanford University, to worksites and examine the translated program’s effects on health outcomes, work performance, and productivity in workers who have chronic health conditions. Additionally, the project will assess cost-effectiveness and return on investment. As the workforce ages and more workers are living with one or more chronic conditions, disease management is becoming increasingly important to maintain a productive and competitive workforce. CDSMP is a widely disseminated evidence-based program that facilitates the development of symptom management skills and adaptive coping strategies. CDSMP has largely targeted older adults and has successfully shown improvements in health behaviors, self-efficacy, health status, and healthcare utilization. CDSMP has not been widely implemented in the worksite. This project is funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. The local YMCAs will be the community partner for delivering the workshops and fostering a sustainable presence in the community.  This project is funded by National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Understanding Occupational Physical Activity and Health

In this study, we seek to understand how both work-related and free time activity relate to various risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.  This study will directly measure physical activity done at work and outside of work to examine how work-related and free time activity is related to cardiovascular disease risk factors like percent body fat. We will also assess whether certain features of office environments are linked to lower percent body fat among workers.  This work continues efforts started nearly 60 years ago to understand how light-intensity physical activity performed at work can reduce cardiovascular disease risk.  We hypothesize that subtle alterations in the built environment at work can significantly increase light-intensity physical activity and thereby reduce cardiovascular disease risk. The long-term implication is that if insufficient light-intensity occupational physical activity is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and this activity can be increased by changes in the work environment, long-term risk will be decreased as will associated healthcare costs.  This project was funded by American Health Association.

Implementation Research – Effects of Intervention Delivery

This project is a continuation of our efforts to translate the Diabetes Prevention Program to workplace settings.  The intervention will test three different delivery modes of FUEL Your LIfe, an adaptation of the Diabetes Prevention Program.  The first is a group-centered approach in which eight to ten participants will meet with a health coach to review the program concepts, share progress, and provide support.  In a separate group, a health coach will interact with each participant individually via the telephone to review the program concepts, monitor participant progress, and provide support.  A final group will be given all information in a self-study format.  The purpose of this study is to determine the comparative effectiveness of the intervention modalities and the incremental cost-effectiveness of the interventions.  This will enable us to maximize the translation of DPP across worksite populations by using approaches which are realistic for most work organizations.  This project was funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Completed Projects

Firefighter Safety @ Work

This study is an exploration of the relationship of safety culture-climate factors to safety outcomes, and what actions might be needed to improve the safety culture-climate of firefighting. Although slight reductions in firefighter fatalities were noticed in 2010 and 2011, there have been 32 firefighter fatalities in 2012 (through mid-April), indicating a monthly rate similar to past trends and greater than 2010 and 2011. Both the firefighting and scientific communities have recognized the need to change the safety climate-culture of firefighting, but there has been little systematic empirical research on this topic. With the help of two willing fire departments (Atlanta and San Jose), the present research will verify and finalize a model of safety culture-climate, field test a survey instrument and assess the relationship of safety culture-climate factors to line-of-duty injury and illness, and disseminate the results and other products for use by the national firefighter community. This study will provide direction for future research and firefighter training with means to enhance firefighter safety climate-culture, safe working behaviors, and injury reduction.  This project was funded by Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Translation of DPP to Worksites

An adapted version of the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) was tested in a worksite setting. DPP is a 24-week weight management program, demonstrated effective in clinical trials and one worksite, aimed at reducing caloric intake and increasing energy expenditure. This project is an example of translation of research to practice examining how a set of intervention strategies can be used to integrate an evidence-based intervention within a specific setting, without the tightly controlled research infrastructure.

The project involved over 2,000 maintenance shop employees at UPRR. The maintenance shops (sites) were randomly assigned as a treatment or control group. The treatment group received an adapted version of the DPP program supported by strategies designed to bolster the work and home environmental supports. Body mass index, healthy eating behaviors, and physical activity levels were measured before and after the program and at six-months post program. In addition, changes in the work and home environmental supports and organizational indicators measuring workplace improvement and financial outcomes were analyzed. This project was funded by the Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Risky Behaviors of Working Teens

This study focuses on a different consequence of adolescent employment – not occupational health issues, but rather on lifelong health behaviors, such as substance use, nutrition and mental health issues. It addresses the large numbers of adolescents who are working, and therefore are being subjected to a myriad of outside influences, which may induce life-altering and even life-threatening changes to these young peoples’ behaviors. The goals of the study are to understand the prevalence of risky behaviors (substance use, disposable income, commitment to graduate from high school, mental health, violence, and physical activity) in working adolescents and the relationship between adolescence who work and risk behaviors. Such an understanding can facilitate the development of workplace interventions, which may be the last and best chance to intervene in behalf of these difficult to reach individuals before they enter adulthood. For more information contact Dr. Jessica Muilenburg ([email protected]).

Work Healthy Georgia

The goal of this project is to test the usability of the Work Healthy Georgia worksite wellness toolkit and evaluate its effectiveness. The toolkit was developed by the Georgia Department of Human Resources, Division of Public Health, Office of Healthy Behaviors. The Work Healthy Georgia toolkit includes resources on planning, implementing, and evaluating wellness activities at the worksite. Education, awareness, policy, and environmental change strategies in the areas of physical activity, healthy eating, tobacco cessation, and self-esteem/stress management are addressed in the toolkit.

The evaluation of Work Healthy Georgia worksite wellness toolkit will be conducted in two phases. Phase I is a pilot study with a limited number of sites. Phase II is a larger scale evaluation with equal representation of worksites and regions across the state and a longer time frame. The following steps will be taken to evaluate the effectiveness of the toolkit: 1) identify worksites across the state of Georgia to participate in the evaluation; 2) implement various health promotion strategies contained in the toolkit that target employees and the environment; and 3) evaluate the usability and impact of the toolkit. This project was funded by the Georgia Department of Community Health.

Strategic Initiative for Firefighters

The purpose of this project is to develop a strategic research plan for examining the role of safety climate and culture in injuries and deaths among firefighters. Primary, but not exclusive, emphasis will be placed on line-of-duty injuries and deaths of structural firefighters.

The following steps will be taken in developing the strategic plan: 1) a review of the occupational safety and health (OSH) literature pertinent to firefighters; 2) a review of research on safety climate/culture and its applicability to firefighter and other emergency response personnel; and 3) a research agenda describing the nature, types, and sequencing of research necessary to assess the importance of safety climate/culture in firefighter injuries and deaths.

We anticipate developing a research agenda that will feature a coordinated series of qualitative and quantitative studies beginning with key informant interviews, proceeding through focus group studies, archival data analyses, instrument development activities, and the development and execution of a large-scale survey study that ideally would involve a nationally representative sample of firefighters. Execution of the research agenda should produce a testable model of factors influencing safety performance in firefighting, a valid and reliable measure of safety climate/culture in firefighting, and an empirical assessment of the relative importance of safety climate/culture in firefighting.

Lighten Up

Lighten Up emphasizes the use of environmental modifications and supports to help people manage their diet and weight. The aim is to reduce the prevalence of obesity in the workplace and achieve a positive return on investment for the company. The Dow Chemical Company Manufacturing sites throughout the United States, employing more than 6,000 workers, are serving as the study sites. Sites are randomly assigned to one of two treatment groups or a control group. The treatment group employs inexpensive environmental changes and/or engage senior managers in the development of a work site culture that is supportive of the health improvement of employees. Health risk, health claims, absenteeism and productivity data of the participants are being analyzed to determine program impacts. This project was funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Move to Improve

WAGES, Workplace Activity for Employee Goal Setting is funded by the CDC under the Public Health Research: Health Protection Research Initiative. The primary aim of the project is to observe among employees the effects of a 12-week intervention based on personal goal setting and organizational action on moderate to vigorous physical activity, employee ratings of productivity, health-related quality of life, and workplace morale.

WAGES is being implemented as a part of the Building Better Health program for employees of The Home Depot, Inc. Employees of 16 Home Depot locations participated in the study. Sites were randomly assigned into 8 treatment and 8 control groups.

Associates in the treatment group were asked to complete at least 15 (10-minute) blocks of physical activity a week and/or 10,000 steps a day. The team goal was to have 75% or more of the team members meet the aforementioned goals 6 out of the 12 weeks. Both phases of the intervention came to culmination in September. We are currently collecting the final data and completing the process evaluation. Now in year two we have begun the data analysis, which will carry the project through year three when the focus will be on manuscript development.  This project was funded by the Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Explaining Fruit and Vegetable Intake with a Consumer Marketing Tool

This research addresses the recommendations made by NCI’s 5-A-Day 10-year evaluation team:

  1. Rethink the 5-A-Day message to prevent wear-out and to enhance its attractiveness,
  2. Rethink channel usage strategies with a focus on new media and tailored communications
  3. Develop strategies to research underserved populations.

In response to these recommendations, this research will assess how theory of planned behavior (TPB) constructs vary by VALS™ segment in a structural equation model.

VALS™ is a marketing tool used extensively in private industry to segment communication audiences by lifestyle. VALS™ yields audience groups that behave differently and that hold different attitudes and social perceptions. Integrating the VALS™ audience segmentation typology with TPB constructs should facilitate the development of more precise and targeted interventions and communication campaigns that tout the cancer-fighting effects of eating the proper amount of fruit and vegetables.

The specific aims of this research include: (1) To identify whether adults (males and female ages 18 to 74) classified in different VALS™ groups hold different attitudes, subjective norms, perceived behavioral control, and behavioral intentions for eating fruit and vegetables. (2) To determine whether the effects of theory of planned behavior constructs – attitudes, subjective norms, perceived behavioral control, and behavioral intention – have different amounts of influence on adherence to the 5-A-Day fruit and vegetable consumption guidelines across audience segments.

A cross-sectional survey of N=1,600 responses will be collected via telephone and computer-aided interviewing methods. Specifically, n=200 responses will be collected via a random dialing process. ANOVA and structural equation models will be used to test specific hypotheses generated from the research aims outlined above.  This project is funded by the National Cancer Institute.

Healthy Work Organization: Health and Behavioral Outcomes

Using data collected on over 3,000 employees in the retail sector, this project is investigating the relationship between work organization factors and employee health and health risk outcomes. Three categories of work organization factors are included: job design, organizational climate, and job future.

Outcome measures include general health status, perceived work stress, somatic symptoms, depression, anger, psychological work adjustment, CVD risk factors, participation in health screenings, smoking, and alcohol consumption. This project is funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Building Better Health

The WHG provides ongoing technical assistance to Home Depot’s Building Better Health program related to strategic planning, data management, and evaluation of its multiple health promotion programs. For more information, contact Mark Wilson ([email protected])


Highlighted Publications

  1. Smith, T.D., Eldridge, F., & DeJoy, D.M. (2016).  Safety-specific transformational leadership and passive leadership influences on firefighter safety climate perceptions and safety behaviors.  Safety Science, 86, 92-97.
  2. Wilson, M.G., DeJoy, D.M., Vandenberg, R., Padilla, H., & Davis, M.  (2016). FUEL Your Life: A Translation of the Diabetes Prevention Program. American Journal of Health Promotion, 30(3), 188-197. doi:10.4278/ajhp.130411-QUAN-169
  3. Wilson, M.G., DeJoy, D.M., Vandenberg, R.J. Corso, P., Padilla, H. & Zuercher, H. (2016).  Effect of intensity and program delivery on the translation of Diabetes Prevention Program to worksites.  A randomized controlled trial of Fuel Your Life.  Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 58, 1113-20.
  4. Goetzel, R.Z., Roemer, E.C., Pei, X., Short, M.E., Tabrizi, M.J., Wilson, M.G., DeJoy, D.M., Craun, B.A., Tully, K.J., White, J.M. & Baase, C.M. (2010). Second year results of an obesity prevention program at The Dow Chemical Company. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 52, 291-302.
  5. DeJoy, D.M., Wilson, M.G., Vandenberg, R.J., McGrath, A.L. & Griffin-Blake, S.  (2010).  Assessing the impact of a healthy work organizational intervention.  Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 83, 139-165.

Complete List of Publications [LINK to WHG Complete Publications List PDF]


Highlighted Presentations

  1. Smith, M.L., Wilson, M.G., DeJoy, D.M., Padilla, H.B., Zuercher, H., Vandenberg, R., Corso, P., Lorig, K. & Ory, M.G. (2015).  Translating the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP) for use in the workplace:  Stakeholders and processes.  Presentation at the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL.
  2. DeJoy, D.M., Smith, T.D., & Dyal, A.A. (2015)  Safety climate and designing intervention to improve safety performance.  Symposium  presentation: Enhancing first responders’ work and safety,  2015 APA/NIOSH Work, Stress, & Health Conference, Atlanta, GA.
  3. Padilla, H.M., Wilson, M., DeJoy, D., Vandenberg, R., LoPilato, A., & Zuercher, H. (2015) Predictors of success in a worksite weight management study. Presentation at the Society of Behavioral Medicine 36th Annual Meeting, San Antonio, Texas. April 2015.
  4. Gay, J.L., Kohl, III H.W., Trevarthen, G., Salinas, J.J., McCormick, J.B., & Fisher-Hoch, S.P. (2012) Contribution of occupation to high doses of light-intensity activity among Mexican American adults.  Presented at the annual meeting of the International Society of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, Austin, TX.
  5. Wilson, M.G., DeJoy, D.M., Padilla, H.M., Davis, M., Vandenberg, R.J., & Eldredge, C. (2011).  Effectiveness of a worksite diabetes prevention program:  Results of Fuel Your Life.  Presented at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association, Washington, DC.

Complete List of Presentations [LINK to WHG Complete Presentations List PDF]