Helping Hospitals Lead Prevention Efforts

Workplace environments that facilitate employees' healthy lifestyle choices have been shown to help reduce absenteeism, increase productivity, improve employee recruiting and retention, reduce health care costs and improve employee satisfaction. To improve employee health and relieve the burden of rising health care costs, The Duke Endowment in 1996 launched a four-year, $5.7 million effort to encourage hospitals to promote preventative strategies in the workplace.


Beginning in the mid-1990s, the rising cost of health care put economic pressure on businesses in the Carolinas. The lack of workplace support for good practices such as healthy eating, exercise and weight control, combined with a general tolerance for tobacco and environmental pollutants, led to increased risk factors for workers. At the time, only a few hospitals had fledgling wellness programs for employees.

The Duke Endowment saw workplace wellness programs as a unique opportunity for hospitals to improve the health of people in their communities and strengthen ties with local employers. The Endowment felt that such programs could help area businesses cut health care costs for the workforce, reduce absenteeism and turnover, and improve morale and productivity.


In 1996, the Endowment began awarding grants to help hospitals develop and replicate workplace wellness programs. By offering fitness plans, nutritional education and health risk screenings to workers, the programs targeted preventable, underlying causes of common illnesses.

Participating Sites

See participating sites in North Carolina and South Carolina.


Area of Work

  • Prevention

Program Area

  • Health Care

Grantmaking Status

This program ran from 1996 to 2000

Areas of Work

  • Prevention and early intervention for at-risk children

    To equip children and families with skills to ensure that children reach developmental milestones to lead successful lives.

  • Out-of-home care for youth

    To drive child welfare systems toward greater accountability for child well-being.

  • Quality and safety of health care

    Improving the quality and safety of health care delivery

  • Access to health care

    Improving health by increasing access to comprehensive care

  • Prevention

    Expanding programs to promote health and prevent disease

  • Academic excellence

    Enhancing academic excellence through program and campus development

  • Educational access and success

    Increasing educational access and supporting a learning environment that promotes achievement

  • Campus and community engagement

    Promoting a culture of service, collaboration and engagement among schools and communities

  • Rural church development

    Building the infrastructure and capacity of United Methodist churches to enhance ministry and mission

  • Clergy leadership

    Strengthening United Methodist churches by improving the quality and effectiveness of church leadership

  • Congregational outreach

    Engaging United Methodist congregations in programs that serve their communities