Every intervention has a “therapeutic dose”

Just like with medications, behavioral and environmental interventions also have an ideal “dose.” Falling short of the dose is likely to weaken or completely negate the impact, and overdoing such interventions, while less dangerous than overdosing medications, has the potential to be a waste of time and resources, and even something of a nuisance. For example, Dr. Michael P. O’Donnell, founder of the American Journal of Health Promotion and CEO of the Art and Science of Health Promotion Institute, explained that the optimal intervention for smoking cessation features 300 minutes of “talk therapy,” spread out over 8 sessions, and should be encouraged by a medical professional and supported by at least two other individuals. In most cases, going beyond these benchmarks yields minimal benefit while increasing costs, but undershooting them leads to a notable drop-off in success rates. Like smoking cessation, virtually all interventions have an ideal level of investment and involvement. Employers may want to consider directing their resources toward reaching the therapeutic dose on a few interventions, rather than attempting too many and coming up short on all of them.