The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) employs a highly skilled workforce accustomed to working under high pressure, short deadlines, and limited budgets. A healthy, productive workforce is integral to the success of NASA's technically challenging high-risk missions.
Therefore, in 2003, the Office of the Chief Health and Medical Officer requested that the Institute of Medicine form a committee to review NASA's occupational health programs, employees awareness of and attitudes toward those programs, and recommend specific options for future worksite preventive health programs focusing on, but not limited to
- nutrition, fitness, 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,
- supportive nutrition options to reduce risk factors for chronic disease,and
- ways to evaluate the effectiveness of such programs.
In the resulting report, titled Integrating Employee Health: A Model Program for NASA, the committee found that NASA has a history of being forward-looking in designing programs aimed at improving the health and wellness of its employees. The agency was a pioneer among federal agencies in its wellness efforts and, in the early 1990s, the agency developed and implemented a 10-year agencywide competitive plan to meet the Healthy People goals.
The Committee also found that, although NASA has a variety of health care, preventive health, and health promotion programs for its employees, the current approach could be improved by centralizing the collection of uniform health metrics and program utilization data.