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Association of Health Risks With the Cost of Time Away From Work

Wright, Douglas W. PhD; Beard, Marshall J. CEBS, CLU, ChFC; Edington, D. W. PhD

Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine: December 2002 - Volume 44 - Issue 12 - pp 1126-1134
Original Articles

The purpose of this study was to combine absences, short-term disability, and workers’ compensation into a sum of the cost of time away from work (TAW) and compare it with health risk status and individual health risks of 6220 hourly workers at Steelcase Inc. The study used 3 years (1998 to 2000) of TAW and health risk appraisal data. Higher TAW costs were associated with illness days, drug/medication use, the individual’s lower perception of physical health, job dissatisfaction, high stress, life dissatisfaction, and physical inactivity. More high-risk individuals (80.6%) had a TAW occurrence than medium- (72.8%) and low-risk (61.1%) individuals. High-risk individuals had higher TAW costs than medium- and low-risk individuals. Of the total TAW costs, 36.2% was attributed to the excess risks of the medium- and high-risk individuals or nonparticipants compared with low-risk participants. If TAW costs follow risk reduction, a potential annual savings of $1.7 million could be achieved.

From the Health Management Research Center, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (Dr Wright); Benefits and Health Services Steelcase, Inc., Grand Rapids, Michigan (Mr Beard); Health Management Research Center University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (Dr Edington).

Address correspondence to: D. W. Edington, PhD, Health Management Research Center, University of Michigan, 1027 E. Huron St., Ann Arbor, MI 48104-1688; e-mail: dwe@umich.edu

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©2002The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine