Wellness is about the person and decisions they make about their health, safety and well-being both on and off the job. However, conflicts can arise in the occupational (health protection) and non-occupational (health promotion) side of the wellness. For example, positive steps can be made in off-site wellness but if the design of jobs, tasks, equipment and the organization do not to match the capability and limitations of the worker then we have a wellness conflict. This paper will begin with an overview of wellness including the dimensions of wellness and impact on workers compensation claims frequency and costs. Integrated approaches to wellness will be described and an evidence-based integrated wellness continuum will be introduced. This wellness continuum will highlight specific safety and ergonomic interventions critical to the success of occupational wellness initiatives. Finally, an Integrated Health and Wellness roadmap will be provided offering guidelines for implementing health promotion and health protection interventions.
Wellness has been described in different ways by many different people over the years varying from basic approaches of physical health and lifestyle to more expanded approaches that include multiple dimensions. There is no universally accepted definition of wellness. Many websites simply define wellness as "the state or condition of being in good physical and mental health" (dictionary.com). Charles B. Corbin, Ph.D. and Robert P. Pangrazi, Ph.D. of Arizona State University in their 2001 paper entitled "Toward a Uniform Definition of Wellness: A Commentary" recognized the absence of a clear definition of wellness has resulted in confusion and misinformation on what is and is not wellness. Their proposed uniform definition of wellness is as follows:
"Wellness is a multidimensional state of being describing the existence of positive health in an individual as exemplified by quality of life and a sense of well-being."
While there is disagreement on the exact number or even types of dimensions, there is general agreement among professionals that wellness is multidimensional. Wellness addresses the whole person with "wellness" and "wellbeing" often used interchangeably. The sub-dimensions of wellness described below are adapted from multiple public internet sites but notably Swarbrick, 2006: