PAMF Researcher Reviews Impact of Employee Wellness Programs

Seventy-four percent of employers who offer health insurance also offer an employee wellness program. Options such as smoking cessation groups and walking programs encourage employees to set and achieve health goals in exchange for discounted health insurance premiums. In January 2014, the government allowed employers to increase the incentive discount, from 20 percent to 30 percent of the total health insurance premium cost.

But do employee wellness programs actually work? The Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute (PAMFRI) recently published a commentary in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine on this question.

Lenny Lesser, M.D.

Lenny Lesser, M.D., MSHS

According to Lenard Lesser, M.D., MSHS, PAMFRI Assistant Research Physician, while monetary incentives may help employees start to make changes, sustaining those changes in the long term is far more challenging.

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Bollywood Dance Benefits to be Assessed in Pilot Research Program

Researchers at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute (PAMFRI) are exploring a new and creative way to manage Type 2 diabetes in South Asian immigrants. For the first time, Bollywood dance – a high-energy, cinematic dance style native to India –will be studied for its effectiveness in managing diabetes. 

In comparison to all other racial and ethnic groups, South Asians in the United States have one of the highest rates of type 2 diabetes. For this group, encouraging lifestyle changes, such as increasing exercise and making healthier eating choices, are an essential part of diabetes care.   


Amlu Natesan, a UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program student, has partnered with PAMFRI’s Latha Palaniappan, M.D., M.S. and her research team and the India Community Center (ICC) to address this issue. The Culturally Relevant Exercise for Type 2 Diabetes (CURE-D) study is piloting an innovative Bollywood exercise program in an effort to motivate and engage South Asian women in exercise.  

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RENEW Clinical Trial – Evaluating a Treatment for Patients with Emphysema

More than three million Americans suffer from severe emphysema, a form of COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). This chronic, debilitating disease causes irreversible damage to delicate lung tissue, leading to shortness of breath and reduced capacity to manage activities of daily living, leading to diminished quality of life.

The Palo Alto Medical Foundation is collaborating with El Camino Hospital and Fogarty Clinical Research Inc. to conduct a clinical trial to evaluate the investigational use of the RePneu® (pronounced ‘RENEW’) Lung Volume Reduction Coil (LVRC) for patients experiencing symptoms of emphysema. Read More

PAMF Research Institute Wins AHRQ Grant to Study Efficiency Across Large Healthcare Systems

Lowering medical costs while improving care cannot be achieved unless improvements in healthcare efficiency made at a few pilot sites of an organization can be adopted at all sites. Recognizing this, the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality (AHRQ) has issued a contract valued at more than $750,000 to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute (PAMFRI). The money will fund a study led by Dorothy Hung, Ph.D., M.A., MPH, assistant scientist at PAMFRI, to analyze and disseminate PAMF’s effort to implement the “Lean” management system across the entire organization. This contract leverages ongoing work that Dr. Hung and her team are conducting as part of an internal evaluation of Lean at PAMF. Read More

New PAMF Study: Alcohol Increases Health Risks for Older Adults

According to a new study by researchers at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute (PAMFRI), alcohol consumption by seniors (aged 65 and older) increases their risk for accidents and other serious health problems, particularly in the context of chronic health problems, medication use and poor functional status.

The study’s objective was to estimate alcohol use among Americans aged 65 and older and to compare this use against National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) recommendations. Using national survey data from the 2005-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), the study also assessed alcohol-related health risks for seniors.

Sandra R. Wilson, Ph. D.

Sandra R. Wilson, Ph.D.

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Are Mobile Apps Effective for Weight Management?

Mobile apps may be a fun way to track our physical activities and diet but many of them do not include features that are most likely to lead to long-term behavior change. This is a key finding of a recently published study conducted by  the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute (PAMFRI). The study evaluated mobile apps that target primarily nutrition and weight tracking based on strategies commonly used to guide behavior change. The study will be published in the November issue of the  American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

In the United States, rates of overweight and obesity continue to rise. With 61 percent of U.S. adults owning a smartphone, software apps offer a new and promising approach to behavioral lifestyle intervention.

“Given the thousands of apps available that target diet and weight loss, we were very interested to see if the popular ones included features that we know will help people achieve their long-term health goals,” said PAMFRI Assistant Research Physician Lenard Lesser, M.D., MSHS.

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