TREC: Ameren Pilot

Project Dates: 2013-2014

Unhealthy lifestyle behaviors related to nutrition, energetics, energy balance, obesity, and physical activity are major contributors to cancer and other chronic conditions. Employers have a vested interest in these behaviors as providers of health insurance for over 160 million workers and their families. However, it is difficult to conduct worksite wellness research with adequate scientific rigor and to evaluate sustainability.

We will design and determine the effectiveness and sustainability of a broad program to be introduced by Ameren, a public utility headquartered in St. Louis that employs 9,000 people. Ameren has eight plants, nearly identical in mission (coal-fired energy production) and employee composition, employing 200 to 400 individuals at each plant.

This project provides a unique opportunity to gain valuable information on interventions for addressing cancer prevention. However, intervention impact will be sub-optimal if the intervention is not tailored to the population and its values. In this study, this will be accomplished through key information interviews with plant-based nurses and human resources/wellness staff; focus group discussions with workers and managers; a lunch inventory; and a survey of current environment and policies based on the survey developed for the SHOW-ME Study. The deployment of Ameren’s workforce among eight plants provides the opportunity for a controlled, randomized intervention approach, but also demands a carefully crafted, complex formative process – including time and effort consuming steps requiring the determination of plant-level organizational characteristics and worker and management interests, values, and priorities. The partnership with Ameren also allows for analysis of insurance claims data to focus the intervention on the top healthcare needs and to provide baseline costs. This work will lead directly to development of an optimized intervention and grant proposal for future intervention studies in this population and translation of our findings to other worksite settings.

Project Goals

  • Systematically understand the needs, attitudes and values, as they relate to nutrition, energetics, energy balance, obesity, and physical activity among Ameren employees, the relevant stakeholders.
  • Use this understanding to develop an intervention to promote healthy eating and activity behaviors in this population.

Project Contact

Rachel Tabak: rtabak@wustl.edu

Project Staff

Principal Investigator: Rachel Tabak, PhD, RD

Project Partners

Ameren Missouri

Funding Source

WUSTL TREC Year 3 Within-Center Pilot

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