267613 Influencing the influencers: Motivating Taft-Hartley Health and Welfare Funds to provide and promote comprehensive tobacco cessation benefits

Monday, October 29, 2012

Susan Weisman, JD , William Mitchell College of Law, Public Health Law Center, St. Paul, MN
Deborah Hennrikus, PhD , Epidemiology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
Jean Forster, PhD, MPH , Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota School of Public Health, Minneapolis, MN
Kelvin Choi, PhD , Division of Epidemiology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
Brooke Nunn, MPH, MSW , William Mitchell College of Law, Public Health Law Center, St. Paul, MN
Background and Objective: Taft-Hartley Health and Welfare Funds administer health insurance plans that provide coverage for approximately 9 million private sector unionized workers in the U.S., plus dependents and retirees. Participants work primarily in blue-collar occupations and smoke at a rate almost twice that of workers in other occupational categories. Most Taft-Hartley Funds do not provide comprehensive coverage for tobacco cessation treatment. This presentation describes a labor community-academic participatory study that tested an intervention to increase the provision and promotion of benefits among Minnesota-based funds. Methods: Tailored outreach was conducted to fund advisors (administrators, consultants, attorneys) of 10 funds (2009-2011). Pre- and post-intervention interviews with advisors examined changes in perceptions about covering and promoting cessation benefits. Pre- and post-intervention data on benefit provision were collected from Summary Plan Documents (SPDs) of Minnesota funds and 19 corresponding funds in Massachusetts and Washington, and compared (2009-2011). SPDs were scored on benefit adequacy, using a 4-point scale derived from CDC evidence-based recommendations. Results: Scores on the 4-point benefit adequacy scale increased from baseline to follow-up for Minnesota (2.2 to 2.8) and the comparison states (0.3 to 0.8); this change was not significantly different between Minnesota and the comparison states. Pre-post comparison of advisors' attitudes indicated that most had acquired knowledge to address cessation benefits from study events, meetings, and materials, and had discussed what they had learned with colleagues and fund trustees. Conclusions: Increased knowledge and positive attitudes about cessation benefits among fund advisors could lead to improvements in benefit coverage and promotion.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Occupational health and safety
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
1. Explain why it is critical to provide and promote comprehensive tobacco cessation benefits to workers who receive health care benefits through plans administered by Taft-Hartley Health and Welfare Funds. 2. Identify key elements of a comprehensive tobacco cessation health care benefit and key stakeholders in benefit decision-making processes. 3. Link to evidence-based educational materials and resources for conducting outreach to both key stakeholders and rank-and-file workers. 4. Articulate key strategies for promoting tobacco cessation benefits to plan participants

Keywords: Health Promotion, Labor-Management Relations

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been principal investigator of two community-academic studies on unionized blue-collar workers' access to tobacco cessation benefits and the provision and promotion of benefits, including the current study, partnering with labor unions and research epidemiologists in community health. Our research team has just been awarded a three-year grant to study multi-fund approaches to promoting cessation benefits to increase use of existing benefits among unionized blue-collar workforce populations. I am principal investigator of that study.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.