Feasibility of Workplace Health Promotion for Restaurant Workers, Seattle, 2012
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Feasibility of Workplace Health Promotion for Restaurant Workers, Seattle, 2012

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    Restaurant workers are a large population at high risk for tobacco use, physical inactivity, and influenza. They are difficult to reach with health care interventions and may be more accessible through workplaces, yet few studies have explored the feasibility of workplace health promotion in this population. This study sought to identify barriers and facilitators to promotion of tobacco cessation, physical activity, and influenza vaccination in restaurants.


    Moderators conducted 7 focus groups, 3 with restaurant owners and managers, 2 with English-speaking workers, and 2 with Spanish-speaking workers. All groups were recorded, and recordings were transcribed and uploaded to qualitative-analysis software. Two researchers coded each transcript independently and analyzed codes and quotations for common themes.


    Seventy people from the restaurant industry participated. Barriers to workplace health promotion included smoking-break customs, little interest in physical activity outside of work, and misinformation about influenza vaccinations. Facilitators included creating and enforcing equitable break policies and offering free, on-site influenza vaccinations. Spanish-speakers were particularly amenable to vaccination, despite their perceptions of low levels of management support for health promotion overall. Owners required a strong business case to consider investing in long-term prevention for their employees.


    Tobacco cessation and influenza vaccinations are opportunities for health promotion among restaurant workers, whereas physical activity interventions face greater challenges. Promotion of equitable breaks, limited smoking-break policies, and free, on-site influenza vaccinations could improve health for restaurant workers, who often do not have health insurance. Workplace interventions may be particularly important for Hispanic workers who have additional access barriers.

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