poor eating habits, and tobacco use. In addition, the NASA work environment is highly variable, and some workers are subjected to unusually hazardous and stressful conditions.
NASA was one of the first federal agencies to recognize the importance of occupational health and wellness programs for the well-being of its employees. NASA has invested in health promotion research and established preventive employee health programs such as nutrition education and one-on-one counseling for employees with cardiac and other chronic diseases.
Today, NASA offers a broad scope of employee health and wellness options, including programs in areas such as employee assistance, environmental health, health promotion, and occupational medicine. Individual centers within NASA incorporate these agency-wide programs into their own occupational health activities. These programs, managed by NASA’s Division of Occupational Health, are described further on the agency’s occupational health information web site, http://www.ohp.nasa.gov, and in Chapter 2 of this report.
NASA’s Office of the Chief Health and Medical Officer (OCHMO), which administers the Division of Occupational Health, works to ensure that every NASA employee will, on leaving or retiring from the agency, be healthier than the average American worker as a result of his or her experience with NASA’s occupational and preventive health program system. In support of this goal, the Institute of Medicine’s Committee to Assess Worksite Preventive Health Program Needs for NASA Employees was charged to review existing preventive health programs, assess employee awareness of and attitudes toward occupational health programs, and determine whether there are any special risks unique to NASA work environments.
The committee further was asked to prepare a report that evaluates and recommends specific options for future worksite preventive health programs, focusing on, but not limited to, nutrition, fitness, chronic disease prevention, and psychological well-being; incentives or methods to encourage employees to voluntarily enlist and sustain participation in worksite preventive health programs; ways to create healthier workplace environments that are conducive to more active lifestyles; intervention options to reduce risk factors for chronic disease; and ways to evaluate the effectiveness of such programs.
The committee derived four primary findings from information obtained from observations made by committee members at site visits to six