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Objective Measurement of Work Absence and On-The-Job Productivity: A Case-Control Study of US Employees With and Without Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

Wahlqvist, Peter MSc; Brook, Richard A. MS, MBA; Campbell, Sara M. MS; Wallander, Mari-Ann PhD; Alexander, Anne M. PhD; Smeeding, Jim E. RPh, MBA; Kleinman, Nathan L. PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: January 2008 - Volume 50 - Issue 1 - p 25-31
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31815dba5a
Original Articles

Objective: To establish an association between gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and increased work absence, as well as reduced productivity while at work, by using objective productivity measurements.

Methods: Retrospective case-control analysis of a database containing US employees’ administrative health care and payroll data for employees (N = 11,653 with GERD; N = 255,616 without GERD) who were enrolled for at least one year in an employer-sponsored health insurance plan.

Results: Employees with GERD had 41% more sick leave days (P < 0.0001), 59% more short-term disability days (P < 0.0001), 39% more long-term disability days (P = 0.1910), 48% more workers’ compensation days (P < 0.0001), 4.4% lower objective productivity per hour worked (P = 0.0481), and 6.0% lower annual objective productivity (P = 0.0391) than the employees without GERD.

Conclusions: GERD is associated with a significant impact on employees’ work absence and productivity while at work as measured using objective data.

From the AstraZeneca R&D Mölndal (Mr Wahlqvist, Dr Wallander), Mölndal, Sweden; The JeSTARx Group (Mr Brook, Mr Smeeding), Newfoundland, NJ; Human Capital Management Services (Ms Campbell and Dr Kleinman), Cheyenne, Wyo; Department of Public Health and Caring Science (Dr Wallander), Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden; Department of Economics and Finance (Dr Alexander), University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyo; Center for Pharmacoeconomic Studies (Mr Smeeding), University of Texas at Austin, Dallas, Tex.

Address correspondence to: Nathan L. Kleinman, Human Capital Management Services, 1800 Carey Avenue, Suite 300, Cheyenne, WY 82001; E-mail:

©2008The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine