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This is the sixth in a series on the HERO disinformation campaign around wellness ROI. The other six installments can be found here.
This afternoon HERO and Ron Goetzel conducted an entire Groundhog Day-type webinar as though They Said What, the entire media, and 2015 don’t exist.
They talked about the “confusion in the marketplace” (to quote their invitation) without once even mentioning the source (us) of the confusion in the marketplace. Actually all we did was point out that they contradicted themselves in their own report. They created the confusion by inadvertently telling the truth.
Here are some of the things they are still saying, that they know to be somewhere between misleading and lies. Apparently Mr. Goetzel lived up to his billing as Goetzel “the Pretzel” by basically twisting “wellness loses money” into wellness makes money,” though he admitted to some “controversy” around the latter point.
First, he is still quoting the Kate Baicker 3.27-to-1 ROI, that he knows to have been thoroughly discredited. We’ve blogged about that extensively–this link will take you to a series of other links. To wit:
- She’s walked it back 4 times.
- RAND’s Soeren Mattke has attacked it (and those of you who know Soeren–he is a very thoughtful and polite guy–you really have to be way off-base to get his dander up).
- Another researcher has pointed out that many of the studies in her meta-analysis were basically made up.
- Many of these studies were claiming reductions in diabetes expense and obesity at the same they were telling people to eat more carbs and less fat, exactly the opposite of what would reduce diabetes incidence and possibly obesity. And yet somehow money was saved…
Second, the Ignorati are still quoting the American Journal of Health Promotion meta-analysis and Mr. Goetzel pretzeled his way around the accidental conclusion of that paper that high-quality studies show a negative ROI.
Third, Mr. Goetzel strongly criticized the Penn State fiasco. Hmm…maybe we’re mis-remembering this, but we seem to recall he was one of the leaders of that jihad. Here is a article about a meeting in which he and several others “take the offensive” in the controversy. Or maybe that was another Ron Z. Goetzel.
Fourth, he said: “There’s some healthy debate going on.” But the irony is, there is no debate. Partly this is because they are steadfastly refusing to debate. And partly this is because there is nothing to debate–they admitted “pry, poke, prod and punish” wellness loses money and damages morale. The only places we disagree are how much money gets lost and how badly morale is damaged.
Fifth, he is still comparing participants to non-participants, as though he hadn’t been forced — by the existence of a “smoking gun” slide — to basically admit that participants significantly outperform non-participants even in the absence of a program.
Sixth, he pretzeled RAND’s Pepsico analysis in Health Affairs, overlooking the fact that the study concluded wellness loses money. Obviously we wouldn’t have congratulated Dr. Mattke on his huge success with that article (#2 article of the year in Health Affairs) if it had reached the conclusion Mr. Goetzel said it did.
Finally, the most notable feature was the dog-not-barking-in-the-nighttime. Not once was there any rebuttal to our observations. The Wellnes Ignorati have placed themselves in a difficult position. In order to rebut us, they would have to acknowledge our existence. But ignoring our existence — and the existence of facts generally — is the core component of the Ignorati strategy.
By the way, our source, expecting a spirited rebuttal, instead got supremely bored by the insight-free recycled and invalid material in the presentation, and dropped off before the slam-bang conclusion to the webinar. We doubt there were any other members of the Welligentsia on that webinar but if there were–and you have something to share about the closing minutes that you don’t see mentioned in here — please do.
We are proud (but also insanely jealous) of our friend Soeren Mattke, whose PepsiCo article was named the #2 most-read for the year 2014 in Health Affairs. We, as our avid albeit narrow fan base may recall, ranked only #12–and even then that was just for blog posts, not articles in print.
Yes, we know it’s not always about Ron “The Pretzel” Goetzel and his twisted interpretations, but he seems to have come up with what appears to be exactly the opposite interpretation of what the PepsiCo study said. Don’t take our word for it — we’ve cut-and-pasted both what the study says about PepsiCo’s results and what he says about the study.
Here is what the article says about the financial impact of health promotion at Pepsico: ROIs well below 1-to-1, meaning a net financial loser, for health promotion. (DM, though, was a winner.)
As low as these ROIs are, several major elements of cost were not available for the calculation — probably enough extra cost to literally make the financial returns so meager that even if the program had been free, PepsiCo would have lost money.
Clear enough? Negative returns from health promotion at PepsiCo, even without tallying many elements of cost. Nonetheless, Mr. Goetzel pretzelized that finding in his recent wellness apologia. Listed under “examples of health promotion programs that work” as a program that is a “best practice” is: PepsiCo. It stands proudly beside the transcendant programs at Eastman Chemical/Health Fitness and the State of Nebraska.
We look forward to a clarification from Mr. Goetzel about how a program that lost a great deal of money on health promotion can be an “example of a health promotion program that work(s),” which we will duly print…but don’t be sitting by your computer screens awaiting it.