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New Online Appraisal System Tracks Wellness

As an outreach of Civilian Health Promotion Services, the Health Risk Appraisal is a voluntary initiative that is part of the command's overall movement toward a wellness-focused and safe work force.

By Kathleen A.K. Lopez / Air Force Materiel Command Public Affairs

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio, April 20, 2006 – First, came a memorandum of agreement authorizing civilians to have duty time for physical fitness, which later was amended to include wellness activities.

Next was a tobacco control policy, limiting designated smoking areas on Air Force Materiel Command bases to be no closer than 50 feet to any building.

Now, welcome the Air Force Civilian Health Risk Appraisal, a questionnaire geared toward assessing and enhancing quality of life.

"The appraisal provides individualized, real-time, wellness-related information and feedback to workers, allowing them to make informed decisions in a number of important wellness categories."

U.S. Air Force Gen. Bruce Carlson

The Air Force Materiel Command is one command serious about raising the bar of wellness and safety for its 54,000 civilian employees – nearly three-quarters of its total work force.

"The Health Risk Appraisal is a key component of corporate wellness programs across America," said U.S. Air Force Gen. Bruce Carlson, commander of Air Force Materiel Command, upon the rollout of the Health Risk Appraisal and the online AFMC Civilian Wellness Support Center April 17.

"The appraisal provides individualized, real-time, wellness-related information and feedback to workers, allowing them to make informed decisions in a number of important wellness categories," he explained.

As an outreach of Civilian Health Promotion Services, the Health Risk Appraisal is a voluntary initiative that is part of the command's overall movement toward a wellness-focused and safe work force.

It is the focal point of the Web-based support center, and will be available to active-duty members in the near future.

"Taking the Health Risk Appraisal questionnaire gives a person a baseline for beginning or maintaining his or her own four-dimensional wellness lifestyle change. From there, an individual can explore countless resources," said Lt. Col. John Leitnaker, chief, Operational Prevention Branch, Air Force Materiel Command Surgeon.

To access the site, log onto http://www.afmcwellness.com, then click on "AFMC Civilian Wellness."  Establish a login ID and password, and you're ready to take the HRA, and explore a seemingly endless number of resources aimed at improving the four dimensions of wellness, which are physical, social, emotional and spiritual.

Answering the appraisal questionnaire takes between 10 and 15 minutes, and feedback is immediate.

"It takes so little time to complete the Health Risk Appraisal, but it equates to taking a very big step toward one's commitment to personal well-being," Leitnaker said.

"Reflecting on the questions then getting the results so quickly gets you motivated to set goals and change behaviors," he noted.

The appraisal begins with a question of overall health. The follow-on questions seek more specific information about blood pressure and cholesterol, medical conditions, such as an ailment, and symptoms, such as pain.

It includes questions (in drop-down menu form) about family history as well as physical activity and exercise, productivity, diet, body weight, psychological and social health, substance use and health and safety.

It concludes by inquiring about readiness for change, for instance, trying to eat better, increase exercise, quit smoking or drinking.

Upon completion of the questionnaire, click "submit" and the results are on the user's screen. The feedback is given in blocks of information as they apply to the four dimensions of wellness.

After completing the Health Risk Appraisal, persons have access to the Air Force Materiel Command wellness Web page.

Because individuals have taken the Health Risk Appraisal, the site is more of a personal online diary for wellness. Participants can set goals and track their progress toward them.

In addition to an overall wellness profile, individuals have their own activity, weight, blood pressure and blood panel logs.

There are various wellness newsletters, covering topics ranging from eating well to fighting depression to managing stress, as well as featured monthly topics, such as heart disease and osteoporosis.

In addition to being voluntary the program is completely anonymous, Leitnaker said. When setting up a login identification and PIN, individuals are asked to supply some basic demographic information. An e-mail address is optional but not required.

However, submitting an e-mail address enables the contractor to provide individuals with targeted health program information.  Addresses are encrypted and not shared.

The launch of the Health Risk Appraisal and the Air Force Materiel Command Civilian Wellness Support Center, as well as the wellness memorandum of agreement and tobacco control policy, are all part of the command's Wellness and Safety Campaign, which will debut officially in May.

Carlson identified wellness and safety of the command's military and civilian work force as one of his top three priorities shortly after assuming command in August 2005.

By creating a wellness-focused and safe work force throughout the command, Carlson intends to enhance readiness and productivity of it, and minimize personal risk of preventable injury, illness or suicide.

The campaign will build upon the already established Air Force Materiel Command Wingman culture, which is to be alert, get involved and take action.

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Aug. 23, 2014
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