In the midst of questions about theeffectiveness of wellness programs, one advocate for suchprograms says the results of a recent survey show that wellnessinitiatives greatly reduce the risk that a person's chroniccondition will go undiagnosed.

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The group, HealthMine, a consumer health engagement company,polled 750 people enrolled in wellness programs and found that 28percent of participants had been diagnosed with a chronic conditionin the past two years. Almost half of those (46 percent) hadreceived their diagnosis through the wellness program, suggestingthat they may have gone much longer without treatment had theprogram not been available.

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HealthMine described the findings as particularly salient withregards to some of the most pressing American health concerns,noting that a third of those who suffer from diabetes are unawareof it. The solution, suggests HealthMine, is to expand theavailability of wellness programs as well as to increase the numberof health tests that allow people to better understand their healthvulnerabilities.

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Read: Obesityshould be our biggest health focus, says Dr. Oz

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A separate poll that HealthMine conducted of 1,200 consumersfound 74 percent support the use of genetic tests in wellnessprograms to help consumers identify health risks.

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Moreover, most of the survey respondents signaled they wouldtake part in various health screenings if they were offered bytheir employer.

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The survey nevertheless showed far greater resistance to certainhealth screenings than to others. Nearly three-quarters said theywould be up to do a screening for vision or blood pressure, and 69percent said they would do a cholesterol screening. But only 58percent said they would do a cancer screening, 54 percent said theywould do a BMI screening and only 41 percent said they were up fora skin analyzer.

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HealthMine CEO Bryce Williams said these surveys suggest thatonly when consumers are aware of their own health conditions willwellness programs meet their full potential.

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"To succeed, wellness programs must enable people to learn theirkey health facts, and connect individuals to their personalclinical data anytime, anywhere,” he said. “When consumers andplans are empowered with knowledge, wellness programs can makerecommendations meaningful to individuals, and help to prevent andmanage chronic disease."

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A past study suggested that while companies do typically hopethat wellness programs can help them keep down health care costs,their top motivation for doing theprograms is to improve the health of theiremployees.

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Dan Cook

Dan Cook is a journalist and communications consultant based in Portland, OR. During his journalism career he has been a reporter and editor for a variety of media companies, including American Lawyer Media, BusinessWeek, Newhouse Newspapers, Knight-Ridder, Time Inc., and Reuters. He specializes in health care and insurance related coverage for BenefitsPRO.