One less obvious, but potentially fruitful strategy for employers to help improve the mental wellbeing among some employees with depression or depressive symptoms is engaging them through the fulfillment of certain critical psychological needs in the workplace. Engaged employees demonstrate an elevated willingness to participate in workplace wellbeing programs and boast elevated physical and emotional health when compared with those who are disengaged. Engaged employees also have a better mood during the workweek and do not experience increased stress from prolonged commute times.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Americans living in the nation’s metropolitan areas with the lowest wellbeing are about twice as likely to report having a heart attack than are residents living in the metros with the highest wellbeing. An average of 5.5% of Americans living in the 10 metro areas with the lowest wellbeing in the U.S. report having had a heart attack, compared with 2.8% of residents in the 10 metro areas with the highest levels of wellbeing.
These findings are based on an analysis of more than 230,000 interviews across 190 metropolitan areas conducted throughout 2012 with adults aged 18 and older, collected as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.
The metros with the highest Well-Being Index scores in 2012 include Lincoln, Neb.; Boulder, Colo.; and Provo-Orem, Utah. Those with the lowest Well-Being Index scores in 2012 include Charleston, W.Va.; Huntington-Ashland, W.Va.-Ky.-Ohio; and Mobile, Ala. Out of the approximately 3 million adult residents living in the 10 metro areas with the lowest wellbeing, about 161,000 have experienced a heart attack. If these cities experienced the same rate of heart attacks as what is found in the 10 metro areas with the highest wellbeing, nearly 80,000 fewer residents would be heart attack victims.
The metro areas this article references are based on the Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) as defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. In many cases, more than one city is included in the same MSA, and the same MSA can cross state borders. All reported MSAs encompass at least 300 completed surveys, and Gallup has weighted each of these MSA samples to ensure it is demographically representative of that MSA.
The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index score is an average of six sub-indexes, which individually examine life evaluation, emotional health, work environment, physical health, healthy behaviors, and access to basic necessities. The overall score and each of the six sub-index scores are calculated on a scale from 0 to 100, where a score of 100 represents the ideal.
To measure the heart attack rate, Gallup asks respondents: “Has a doctor or nurse ever told you that you have had a heart attack?” Nationally, about 4.0% of all adults in 2012 reported having ever experienced a heart attack.
Across Cities, Heart Attack Rates Rise as Wellbeing Declines
Sorting the 190 MSAs reported in 2012 into 10 evenly-sized groups based on their Well-Being Index scores reveals that their scores drop by an average of 0.8 points and their heart attack rates climb by an average of 0.22 percentage points in each successive group.
Thus, for every 100,000 adults in any given city, each spot lower on the list of 10 groups represents an estimated additional 220 residents who have experienced a heart attack. And, a city that has a Well-Being Index score that is 1.0 point lower than the next-closest score would expect an estimated 275 additional heart attack victims.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about 715,000 Americans have a heart attack each year, about one-quarter of which are repeat incidences. More than 100,000 Americans die from a heart attack annually.
Many of the risk factors for heart attacks are also common characteristics found in metro areas with low wellbeing, including obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, having diabetes, and excessive stress. For leaders of these cites, creating a culture of wellbeing to reduce the chances of heart disease and heart attack among residents of their communities is key. Building such a culture starts with greater awareness and dialogue around wellbeing, coupled with a combination of involvement by schools, businesses, and local government.
Schools and businesses can help reduce obesity and encourage healthy behaviors by eliminating sugary drinks and foods that are deep-fried or high in sugar, and replacing them with healthier alternatives accompanied by nutritional information. Businesses can give their employees an incentive to maintain a healthy weight by increasing contributions to medical spending accounts when these goals are met.
City governments can invest in widening and lengthening walking/biking paths to encourage pedestrian traffic to grocery stores, schools, and mass transit. They can also encourage restaurants to offer smaller portions and a wide selection of heart-healthy fare as well as promote grocery stores that make it easy for shoppers to find healthy, low-fat foods.
Above all, healthcare, business, education, and government leaders should discuss common goals and ways they can contribute toward improving the health and wellbeing of residents for the betterment of the entire community.
View and export complete wellbeing data by metro area using Gallup’s U.S. City Wellbeing Tracking interactive.
About the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index
The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index tracks wellbeing in the U.S. and provides best-in-class solutions for a healthier world. To learn more, please visit well-beingindex.com.