Just a couple weeks ago I posted this epic guidance: “8 Ways to Debunk Wellness and Health Promotion Research Papers.” It obviously rocked the world of the scientific health-publishing community.
Since then, editorial review boards of respected research journals in the population and workplace-health fields have called emergency meetings. The boards admitted a need for more diligence in evaluating article submissions, and then improving objective, peer-review standards prior to publication. My phone is ringing off the hook. HA! NOT!!
In fact, the Journal of Environmental and Occupational Medicine (JOEM) just published an article titled, “Does Whale Oil Illuminate Darkness Effectively?” Well, that wasn’t exactly the title. But it was close. It was actually, “Do Workplace Health Promotion (Wellness) Programs Work?” The article manages to include most of my eight warning signs for being invalid.
My colleague (defined as another person who knows the lyrics for the great tunes of the 60s and 70s) Jon Robison, PhD (see note below) just asked 13 questions about the JOEM paper of the lead author, which I think should be answered.
The reference to “the parallel universe” means that the conclusions Goetzel and company came up with have no relation to our known laws of science. The conclusions are not of this earth. In essence, you have to suspend reality to accept Goetzel’s claims. That’s a fair criticism.
Al Lewis, PhD, and Vik Khanna, have been calling Dr. Goetzel on these issues for years. If you haven’t read Lewis and Khanna’s book, “Surviving Workplace Wellness, With Your Dignity, Finances and (Major) Organs Intact,” you should if you’re working in workplace wellness or health promotion. And of course, don’t miss the most in-depth (and sometimes scathing) review of that work, which I bravely posted, “Al Lewis and Vik Khanna criticized me in their new book, Surviving Workplace Wellness. And now my life is over.”
Khanna (once again) took exception to Goetzel’s JOEM paper in his post, “Do Workplace Health Promotion Wellness Programs Work?: Ron Goetzel’s circularity.” Lewis makes a comment on Khanna’s blog opening with the statement, “It might be nice if Mr. Goetzel actually responded for a change.” Indeed.
What You As a Wellness or Health-Promotion Professional Should Do
Often employers and some brokers are unknowingly complicit in allowing these invasive and ineffective wellness programs into workplaces. Workplace wellness as it’s currently practiced is starting to be challenged by mainstream media and the weakness of the concept is becoming more widely understood.
And not too long ago I published, “5 Questions That Will Make Your Wellness Vendors Think They’re Having a Bad Nightmare… A Workplace-Wellness Critique.”
I don’t suggest an anti-wellness movement. But the entire paradigm, our thinking about it, and new solutions are needed. There are a lot of good people out there with better ideas based on common sense and sound science. That’s why I remain optimistic that workplace wellness can transition, change, and evolve into a meaningful and effective way to help people enjoy their careers and to be healthier. But we have to let go of what doesn’t work.