Fielded during the late stages of the pandemic (March 2021) when many employers had stepped up to address mental health issues for their employees, the study showed that musculoskeletal (MSK) pain is likely being overlooked by employers during a time of national conversation about mental health. MSK pain was prevalent pre-pandemic and has also been on the rise during the pandemic. Yet the study found that there is a disconnect between what health benefits employees want compared to what their employers currently offer.

Asking individuals between the ages of 18 to 65 who receive health insurance from their employer what benefits they would like and what would make them more likely to use them, the study showed:

  • Mental health, physical inactivity, and pain management are the top three health concerns during COVID-19 for both in-person and remote employees.
  • Employees concerned about pain want employer-sponsored pain programs at more than double the rate that employees concerned about mental health issues want employer-sponsored mental health solutions.
  • Employees interested in mental health support were four times more likely to be interested in pain management programs.
  • Employees who were interested in employer-sponsored workout reimbursement were 45% less likely to be interested in employer-sponsored back, joint or other pain programs than employees who were not interested in workout reimbursement.
  • Employees working remotely were one-and-a-half times more concerned about physical inactivity than employees who work on-site.

The study also looked at how age and income affected what employer-sponsored benefits they would like from their employer:

  • Age and level of income had no bearing on the interest in employer-sponsored pain programs.
  • Employees with a lower household income were two times more likely to be interested in employer-sponsored programs that include mental health support than employees with a higher household income.

“The pandemic has put a huge strain on employees and the employers for whom they work: highlighting previously hidden needs that employers must address — not just now, but moving forward,” said Brad Lawson, CEO of Fern Health. “There is no going back to normal; there is simply the ‘new normal’ and for workers, that means a more prescient focus on how both mental health and physical activity impact chronic pain. Employers must respond.”

About the Pulse of Health Benefits Study
The Pulse of Health Benefits Study was fielded to a sample group of 614 full-time employees in the US ages 18+ who receive health insurance through their employer or their partner’s employer during March 2021. Full findings from the study can be found here.

About Fern Health
Available through employers, Fern Health‘s virtual pain platform addresses the underlying cause of persistent pain, not just the symptoms. Guided programs deliver exercise therapy, interventions for sleep, movement, and mental health. Every member is supported through pain-focused 1:1 clinical coaching and pain neuroscience education to improve function, reduce pain, and avoid unnecessary healthcare costs.

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SOURCE Fern Health

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Generosa Delgado has been a health writer for Press Daily since 2018. Previously, she was a health and medical writer for The Los Angeles Times. Generosa has experience working as a freelance journalist since 2016, and before that as a staff writer for Health Magazine.