A recent study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research indicates that health risk assessments (HRAs), a tool managers often use to guide workers toward more healthy behavior, may help identify those at risk for depression well before the disease starts.
The study’s sponsor, Johnson & Johnson Health and Wellness Solutions, conducted the study to evaluate the effectiveness of HRAs, including those it markets to employers. The findings showed that 20 percent of the people labeled as at-risk for depression went on to develop more significant mood disorders,Johnson & Johnson said in a release.
Heather Cole-Lewis, a behavioral scientist with J&J Health and Wellness Solutions, said the study showed how the assessments can help identify people needing treatment well before it affects the quality of their work.
“There is a substantial group of people among our HRA participants who have depressive symptoms but might not necessarily meet criteria indicating a need for clinical management,” Cole-Lewis said in the release. “We know now that a significant portion of them are at risk of progressing to levels of distress and experiencing considerable productivity impairment in the process.”
J&J published the findings in the Journal of Medical Internet Research on March 31 after compiling data from nearly 23,000 online HRAs.
“One of the most useful takeaways from this study is that HRAs can help identify individuals with subthreshold depressive symptoms who may deteriorate over time, as well as those who are at risk of chronic depression,” Jennifer Turgess, J&J’s vice president of behavioral science and advanced analytics, said in the release.