Barriers and bridges to implementing a workplace wellness project in Alaska

Craig N. Sawchuk, Joan Russo, Gary Ferguson, Jennifer Williamson, Janice Sabin, Jack Goldberg, Odile Madesclaire, Olivia Bogucki, Dedra Buchwald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Context: The vast, rugged geography and dispersed population of Alaska pose challenges for managing chronic disease risk. Creative, population-based approaches are essential to address the region's health needs. The American Cancer Society developed Workplace Solutions, a series of evidence-based interventions, to improve health promotion and reduce chronic disease risk in workplace settings. Issues: To adapt Workplace Solutions for implementation in eligible Alaskan businesses, research teams with the University of Washington and the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium collaborated to address various geographic, intervention, and workplace barriers. Terrain, weather, and hunting seasons were frequent geographic challenges faced over the entire course of the pilot study. Coordinating several research review boards at the university, workplace, and regional tribal health organizations; study staff turnover during the entire course of the study; and difficulties obtaining cost-effective intervention options were common intervention barriers. Few workplaces meeting initial study eligibility criteria, turnover of business contacts, and a downturn in the state economy were all significant workplace barriers. Lessons learned: Flexibility, organization, responsiveness, communication, and collaboration between research staff and businesses were routinely required to problem-solve these geographic, intervention, and workplace barriers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5946
JournalRural and Remote Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2020


  • Alaska
  • Health promotion
  • Recruiting
  • Retaining
  • Workplace

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medical Services
  • Health(social science)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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